Falls have implications for the health of older adults. Strength and balance interventions significantly reduce the risk of falls; however, patients seldom perform the dose of exercise that is required based on evidence. Health professionals play an important role in supporting older adults as they perform and progress in their exercises. Teleconferencing could enable health professionals to support patients more frequently, which is important in exercise behavior.
This study aims to examine the overall concept and acceptability of teleconferencing for the delivery of falls rehabilitation with health care professionals and older adults and to examine the usability, acceptability, and feasibility of teleconferencing delivery with health care professionals and patients.
There were 2 stages to the research: patient and public involvement workshops and usability and feasibility testing. A total of 2 workshops were conducted, one with 5 health care professionals and the other with 8 older adults from a community strength and balance exercise group. For usability and feasibility testing, we tested teleconferencing both one-to-one and in small groups on a smartphone with one falls service and their patients for 3 weeks. Semistructured interviews and focus groups were used to explore acceptability, usability, and feasibility. Focus groups were conducted with the service that used teleconferencing with patients and 2 other services that received only a demonstration of how teleconferencing works. Qualitative data were analyzed using the framework approach.
In the workshops, the health care professionals thought that teleconferencing provided an opportunity to save travel time. Older adults thought that it could enable increased support. Safety is of key importance, and delivery needs to be carefully considered. Both older adults and health care professionals felt that it was important that technology did not eliminate face-to-face contact. There were concerns from older adults about the intrusiveness of technology. For the usability and feasibility testing, 7 patients and 3 health care professionals participated, with interviews conducted with 6 patients and a focus group with the health care team. Two additional teams (8 health professionals) took part in a demonstration and focus group. Barriers and facilitators were identified, with 5 barriers around reliability due to poor connectivity, cost of connectivity, safety concerns linked to positioning of equipment and connectivity, intrusiveness of technology, and resistance to group teleconferencing. Two facilitators focused on the positive benefits of increased support and monitoring and positive solutions for future improvements.
Teleconferencing as a way of delivering fall prevention interventions can be acceptable to older adults, patients, and health care professionals if it works effectively. Connectivity, where there is no Wi-Fi provision, is one of the largest issues. Therefore, local infrastructure needs to be improved. A larger usability study is required to establish whether better equipment for delivery improves usability.