Falls Co-Responders get Joan’s back on her feet

Joan Norton (pictured centre) recently needed the helping hands of the QAS Falls Co-Responder crew – she is pictured here with Libby Gallagher and Kym Murphy.

For 93-year-old Bongaree resident Joan Norton, there aren’t many life lessons she hasn’t learnt, but Joan recently learnt something new: if you find yourself on the floor call Triple Zero and ask for the Queensland Ambulance Service’s (QAS) Falls Co-Response crew.

“I tell everyone of my friends to ask for the falls co-responders first if you have had a fall,” Joan said.

Joan recently found herself in need of help when her chair collapsed underneath her, and after a call from her support person, it was the pilot QAS Falls Co-Response Program crew who came to her aid.

“I found myself sitting on the floor when my chair suddenly broke,” she said. “It was lucky my Anglicare care support worker was coming in at the time.

“She called the ambulance straight away and the Falls Co-Response crew came in, talked to me, and assessed the situation as I wasn’t in any pain.

“I was envisaging it was going to be a horrible experience trying to get up.”

Joan said she was surprised when the crew used a piece of equipment called a Raizer II, which safely supports patients into an upright seating position after an accident or fall.

“They put the machine’s supports under my legs, behind my back and on my sides and pressed a button and I rose,” Joan said.

“No one was more surprised than I. It is a great invention to help people get up without any pain or problem – it was magical.

“It makes such a difference to be put upright without any effort on my behalf.

“The responders were so competent, calm and acted like it was perfectly normal that people fall through chairs all the time.”

The QAS Falls Co-Response Program is a highly successful pilot which is helping older people who have fallen or injured themselves to stay at home independently for longer.

This pilot partners a paramedic with an occupational therapist (OT) or a physiotherapist to not only assess their patient for injuries, but also check their environment with the aim of preventing future falls.

“The OT (who attended) asked me if she could have a look around to assess any additional risks in my home and, by that time, I was walking around with her,” Joan said.

“She made some suggestions to help me move more easily around the house and avoid any problems like using non-slip matts, shower aids and improving doorway access.”

QAS Falls Co-Response Program Manager Kym Murphy said in the Metro North and Moreton Bay area, QAS paramedics were partnered with Metro North Health’s Community and Oral Health OTs and physios to deliver the program.

“QAS is harnessing allied health skills, knowledge, and capabilities to complement the paramedic skills in assessing not only a patient’s health and injuries after a fall, but also their environment to prevent future falls,” Kym said.

“We know the longer people remain on the floor, the greater the risk they have of succumbing to other health emergencies, so this pilot also aims to get to them sooner.”

From the pilot’s start in October last year until 2 March this year, the QAS Falls Co-Response Program has responded to 823 patients who have had a fall.

“Of these, 49 per cent of patients were provided with appropriate, individually tailored care plans and referrals without needing transport to hospital after being assessed by the specialist Falls Co-Response crews,” Kym said.

The QAS Falls Co-Response Program pilot is a collaboration between QAS and Queensland Health and being piloted in Brisbane’s Metro North and Metro South communities.

Joan is now doing well at home and considering some simple solutions to avoid any further incidents in the future.

2024-05-08T10:46:04+10:009 May 2024|
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