Collaborating for Fall Prevention
It would be great if every community possessed the resources and staff to start a falls prevention program from scratch. However, very rarely does this actually happen. If you find that your area could benefit from such an idea — but can't afford making it an independent, free-standing operation — consider collaborating with other health organizations to get the same effects.
Colleen Campbell, the Senior Injury Prevention Coordinator for the Alameda County Public Health Department Emergency Medical Services, agrees that improving falls prevention among geriatric patients takes a coalition of EMS professionals, public health officials, injury prevention specialists, hospital staff, patient personal physicians, pharmacists, exercise specialists, and more.
Working in a large and densely populated county with varying interest groups, Ms. Campbell described the multiple efforts of the Alameda County Public Health Department to reduce falls by seniors without any large addition of resources. After working on falls prevention-related programs for more than twelve years, she shared these tips:
1. Incorporate fall prevention into services that already exist instead of trying to launch and grow a new program.
2. Integration into existing programs is a long-term approach that will help the program survive. Ms. Campbell said, "The development is slower, but that leads to sustainability for the fall prevention program."
3. EMS organizations should help create or join existing coalitions of community organizations that focus on senior injury prevention. A broader-based focus of injury prevention will include senior driver safety, other types of injury prevention, and preparation for natural disasters.
4. Invite participation from other allied health professionals. For example, Ms. Campbell described how pharmacists can deliver presentations at congregate meal sites about medication precautions and medication interactions.
5. Encourage efforts that help older adults stay physically active, follow proper nutrition guidelines, and learn about medication management to learn about senior’s overall health and prevent falls.
Ms. Campbell explained, "4,000 people over age 60 are hospitalized in California each year just from medication mismanagement." Medication mismanagement is a significant fall risk factor and should be part of any fall prevention program.