EIM for Older Adults in New Taipei, Taiwan
Like in many other places throughout Asia, there is a growing concern in Taiwan about maintaining the health and prosperity of their rapidly ageing society. In fact, the Taiwanese government has identified the preservation of physical function and the prevention, or delay, of disease and disability in elderly residents as one of its top priorities. Within this context, the New Taipei City government (similar to a U.S. state) has focused on physical activity promotion as a key strategy. The New Taipei Health Department, under the guidance of Commissioner Dr. Chi-Hung Lin, developed and launched an initiative called “Fit for Age” in 2016. Over the course of one year, nearly 3,500 older adults were screened, referred and attended community-based physical activity programs across New Taipei. Looking to grow on this initial success, the New Taipei City government has partnered with Exercise is Medicine®. Bringing together leaders from several major health organizations, such as the Taiwan Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Society, the Taiwan Family Medicine Association, and the Taiwan Association of Integrated Care, New Taipei City is looking to become part of the EIM Global Network and expanding the reach and impact of the Fit for Age program.
A week-long series of EIM-related events was recently held in New Taipei City, beginning on Tuesday, March 14th with a prime time press conference. The highlight of the event was an appearance by New Taipei City Mayor Liluan Chu (the equivalent of a U.S. Governor), who emphasized the importance of physical activity in maintaining the health and wellness in the elderly. A ceremonial signing of a partnership between the New Taipei City government and ACSM/EIM further symbolized the important and growing partnership between the two organizations. Multiple superintendents from the major hospitals in the New Taipei area were on hand to support the launch of EIM. The press conference was also covered by all of the major Taiwanese media outlets and concluded with a Q&A session with Mayor Chu.
Capitalizing on the momentum created by the launch of EIM in New Taipei, a team of experts from Changi Hospital and the EIM Singapore team hosted two separate training sessions - one for physicians and a second for allied health and exercise professionals in New Taipei City. Over two half-day sessions, 146 physicians, spanning a wide range of medical specialties, received guidance on pragmatic strategies to assess patient physical activity levels, conducted safety screening, prescribe exercise, and connect their patients to community-based physical activity programs. Simultaneously, 198 allied health professionals (including physical therapists and exercise professionals) attended a one and a half day workshop that provided them with the latest information on customizing exercise programs for older adults and individuals with multiple chronic diseases, behavior change strategies, and serving as an extended part of the healthcare team. The workshops were strategically offered to train a new cohort of leaders within the Fit for Age program. The goal is to empower and support providers to refer their patients to the community-based Fit for Age programs led by the allied health professionals who attended the trainings.
This was indeed a very important week for EIM and its expansion throughout Asia. Stay tuned for more information on the success of EIM in Taiwan – we are excited about this fantastic beginning and looking forward to hearing more about the successful integration of the Fit for Age program and EIM in New Taipei City in the years to come!