The FaLls EXercise Implementation (FLEXI) Study, a collaboration between PenARC, NIHR Applied Research Collaborations Greater Manchester and leaders ARC East Midlands, will evaluate the scaling up of the ground-breaking Falls Management Exercise (FaME) programme. Recently featured in a World Health Organization report, the FaME programme is a group-based, face-to-face, six-month exercise programme aimed at improving the strength and balance of people aged 65 and over. FaME was developed by Professor Dawn Skelton, Professor of Ageing and Health at Glasgow Caledonian University.
Professor Skelton said: “Many years ago, I developed FaME with colleagues in the fitness industry to try to ensure effective exercise for what was considered to be a normal part of ageing; falls. FaME has been shown to be effective both in older adults at high risk of falls and sedentary older adults at lower risk of falls. FaME needs to be available, just as aspirin is available for reducing the risk of a stroke. This study will help to embed it into systems more widely.”
PenARC Associate Professor in Ageing and Rehabilitation, Professor Vicky Goodwin MBE, said: “Being part of this research is hugely exciting to me as a physiotherapist. Over the past 20 years, I’ve delivered the FaME programme, taught others how to deliver it, and conducted research on preventing falls amongst older people and those living with Parkinson’s. It will be an amazing opportunity to collaborate with a national group of leading researchers and practitioners on preventing falls, as well as working with members of the public, commissioners and experts in innovation to improve the availability of evidence-based strength and balance training for older people.”
Dr Elizabeth Orton, FLEXI Chief Investigator, Associate Professor at the University of Nottingham, NIHR ARC East Midlands and a Consultant in Public Health said: “Preventing falls is so important, particularly as many older adults have been shielding during the Coronavirus pandemic and may have lost some of their mobility and strength during this time, placing them at a much higher risk of having a fall. The good news is that we know that exercise programmes like FaME can reduce that risk. Unfortunately, however, programmes aren’t always locally available. This research will help us understand how to increase the availability of FaME and understand what makes programmes successful.”
The FaME implementation toolkit was developed in the East Midlands, for rolling out the FaME programme, showing that it worked outside of a research setting. The toolkit will be tested in the FLEXI Study across two very different regions, Greater Manchester and Devon, to see if it works in these populations too.
Professor Chris Todd FLEXI Co-Investigator, Professor of Primary Care and Community Health at the University of Manchester and Lead for Healthy Ageing at NIHR ARC Greater Manchester said: “I’m really thrilled to be part of this collaborative world class research team including Professor Dawn Skelton, who published the original clinical trial demonstrating that the FaME programme works. This new funding allows us to focus on how best to ensure FaME is delivered appropriately and is made available for older people.”
Part of the NIHR Healthy Ageing, Dementia and Frailty National Priority Research Programme, the FaLls EXercise Implementation (FLEXI) Study commences on 1st October 2021.
You can keep up to date on progress by following the @FlexiStudy Twitter account.