Perspectives of healthcare professionals in England on falls interventions for people with dementia: a qualitative interview study
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Objective To explore the experiences of healthcare professionals working in falls prevention and memory assessment services in providing assessments and interventions for falls risk reduction in people with dementia.Design This is a qualitative study using 19 semistructured interviews. Interviews were analysed through thematic analysis.Setting Community-based falls and memory assessment services in the East Midlands, UK.Participants Nurses (n=10), physiotherapists (n=5), occupational therapists (n=3) and a psychiatrist (n=1).Results Three substantive themes were identified: challenges posed by dementia, adaptations to make falls prevention appropriate for people with dementia and organisational barriers. Patients’ poor recall, planning and increased behavioural risk associated with dementia were key problems. Healthcare professionals provided many suggestions on how to overcome these challenges, such as adapting exercise interventions by using more visual aids. Problems associated with cognitive impairment created a need for additional support, for instance longer interventions, and supervision by support workers, to enable effective intervention, yet limited resources meant this was not always achievable. Communication between mental and physical health teams could be ineffective, as services were organised as separate entities, creating a reliance on third parties to be intermediaries. Structural and organisational factors made it difficult to deliver optimal falls prevention for people living with dementia.Conclusions Healthcare professionals experience challenges in providing falls prevention to people with dementia at the individual and organisational levels. Interventions can be adapted for people with dementia, but this requires additional resources and improved integration of services. Future research is needed to develop and test the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of such services.