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Partnership for Healthy Aging


The Guest Healthcare Professional Connection
by Patti League, A Matter of Balance Lead Trainer

Master Trainers, think creatively about the ways to connect with a guest healthcare professional  - a valuable component of A Matter of Balance.

The guest healthcare professional, also known as guest therapist, helps to maintain the healthcare connection for A Matter of Balance/ Lay Leader Model. A healthcare professional (such as a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or registered nurse) is invited to attend one Matter of Balance class session for an hour to provide information and answer questions about reducing fall risks. They review such things as how to get up and down from the floor safely; how to get out of bed or up from a chair more easily; and how to go up and down stairs. They also discuss the use of assistive devices and home and community safety. 

The guest therapist’s visit to the class is a true highlight for participants and complements the coaches, who often maintain a list of questions from participants to ask during the visit. Finding a healthcare professional to fill this role can be an opportunity to create new partnerships and increase awareness in your community.

Where can you find a healthcare professional to fill this role? Most communities have homecare services available. These agencies have RNs, PTs and OTs on staff who make home visits in rural areas as well as cities. Larger communities have hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and physical therapy practices. You can connect with local chapters of  AOTA and APTA or perhaps contact a retired RN, PT, or OT who is looking for an opportunity to be involved in the community.

You can also provide an opportunity for Schools of Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy or Nursing to involve their faculty and students in the program. The Guest Therapist Handbook can assist faculty in determining if a student has the appropriate level of knowledge and training.

This successful translation of a professionally-led health promotion program into a volunteer lay leader model reduces the cost of the intervention and enables the embedding of the program in community-based organizations, thus making it more broadly available to older adults in diverse settings.


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