Irish Local Development Network

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Balance Matters — improving health and wellbeing for older people in the Ballymun Whitehall area

Balance Matters is an innovative, cost effective, community based exercise programme designed to reduce the risk of falls and injuries and social isolation among frail older people.

In 2010, the Ballymun Whitehall Area Partnership, Dublin City Council and the Health Services Executive joined forces to share expertise, skills and resources to develop, implement and evaluate the programme.

The aim of the Balance Matters programme is to promote the health and wellbeing of frail older people through tailored exercise and socialisation programmes. It consists of two components – the Falls Management Exercise Programme (FaME) and the Meet, Move and Socialise Programme (MMS). 

Participants are referred by the HSE physiotherapist team.  Average weekly attendance at the programme is 15 and the average age of programme participants is 78.

Participants on the programme receive:

  • Evidence based exercises (balance & co-ordination, strength, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness) to reduce falls and  injuries related to falls
  • A health and psychological wellbeing component to improve quality of life;                                    
  • Socialisation element to encourage peer support;        
  • Information regarding relevant local services to improve links.

Feedback from Programme Participants

Social component: ‘The class is great; to be able to mix with other people…it’s a lifeline’.                                    

Increased confidence: ‘My confidence is improving especially when I’m walking.  Before I would lose my balance but not any more’

Transport: ‘Transport is vital; ‘I wouldn’t be able to attend otherwise’.

Positive Recognition

In a review carried out by the partner agencies behind the project it was agreed that the sum of the collaborative effort was more effective than each individual alone i.e. none of the members of the Inter-Agency Group had the resources to develop and implement the programme on their own. By working together, the programme gave the agencies increased opportunities to engage with vulnerable people.                      

In 2010, the programme received the HSE Achievement for Excellence award and in 2011, the programme received the Biomnis Healthcare Innovation Certificate.

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