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Phase 1

  • Scope to increase frontline healthcare staff’s awareness of osteoporosis and the associated increased fracture risk. 
  • As prevalence of osteoporosis increases with age (50% of people over 75 years have osteoporosis) there are implications for the care of older people, including their moving and handling needs.
  • NHS Manual Handling guidelines and staff education systems promote principles of safe and effective practice for all staff grades and disciplines. These provide generic guidance and focus on assessment of the presenting condition of the person rather than on specific medical diagnoses. In addition, healthcare professionals are expected to apply their clinical judgement. 
    • We urge all staff to think about osteoporosis in every moving and handling situation with older people in acute care as often the condition is ‘hidden’. 
  • Accidental injuries (low-trauma fractures) linked to moving and handling in older people with osteoporosis tends to be associated with falls. Literature reports that around 5% to 7% of falls in hospital result in fractures. 
  • Experienced healthcare professionals referred to exemplars of safe and effective moving and handling that demonstrated sound professional values, including respect for the person, with a few isolated examples of potentially sub-optimal practice.
(The full results are to be reported in research publications.)

Safety first! ‘Think about osteoporosis’ in all moving and handling activities with older people.

Phase 2

In the pilot education study a series of education workshops was delivered to frontline healthcare staff in the NHS (registered healthcare professionals and healthcare support workers). The purpose was to raise awareness of osteoporosis and to trial a clinical simulation ‘Osteoporosis Suit’. The workshops were formally evaluated using a survey tool administered immediately before and after the intervention and at four weeks. The full results will be reported elsewhere.  The workshops were well-received by participants, knowledge about osteoporosis improved overall, they gained a rich insight into the patient experience and considered heightened awareness of osteoporosis would influence their future practice.  Qualitative comments from participants wearing the suits included the following; a fear of falling, feelings of vulnerability, inability to make eye contact, slowness doing activities and heightened anxiety. Participants recognized the importance of not hurrying people, carefully reconsidering moving and handling techniques, being more patient and realizing that people might be reluctant to ask for help even when they needed it. These findings informed the development of the complex education initiative in phase 3.
Phase 3

An interactive website was developed to communicate key findings from the project and to provide access to examples of bespoke education resources for moving and handling and people with osteoporosis. These included clinical simulation videos and related learning activities to highlight specific moving and handling activities ranging from day to day living with the condition to complex caring scenarios and with links to other resources. Over time the interactive website will provide access to further education opportunities and will help to stimulate discussions about osteoporosis between frontline staff and others in the osteoporosis community. 

During website development patients, healthcare staff, specialist clinicians and academic staff provided suggestions and feedback and this collaborative work is set to continue. 

Phase 4

Project dissemination activities are ongoing using a full range of media. Full project results will be reported in research and education publications. Action research, implementation and evaluation project with frontline healthcare staff will start up this autumn. This project website will have a central place in the work.