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StopFalls Network California

History of the StopFalls Network California:
The initiative to build the StopFalls Network was an outgrowth of the 2003 California Blueprint on Fall Prevention Conference, which engaged over 125 participants from all over the state in developing a plan and creating strategies to build an infrastructure of fall prevention programs in the state; their work also served to raise the awareness about fall prevention as a public health priority. Growing constituency to influence systems change is a key element of the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence (FPCE), a five-year initiative funded by the Archstone Foundation.

The California Department of Health Services (CDHS), State and Local Injury Control
(SLIC) Section was the FPCE partner given the lead to build the statewide Network. We created fact sheets and a brief online application and distributed these at meetings and conferences. We also e-mailed them to potential members, using attendance rosters from previous conferences, as well as lists from organizing key partners including but not limited to the Department of Aging (for AAAs), Emergency Medical Services Authority, and Andrus Gerontology Center.

StopFalls was launched in conjunction with a popular annual senior injury conference, setting the tone for future efforts. We developed a mission statement and established workgroups. Each of the groups in turn developed action plans with short, medium, and long-range goals to address issues in common. The workgroups included: 1) continuing education, 2) policy, advocacy, and sustainability, 3) shared resources, 4) media & communications, and 5) frail/high-risk elders. Each of the workgroups now holds periodic teleconferences to discuss progress on implementing their action plan items.

Organizations that took the lead in developing the StopFalls Network California:
CDHS’ State & Local Injury Control Section was the FPCE partner given the lead to build the StopFalls Network. Additional support was provided by the Archstone Foundation and the Steering Committee for the 2003 Blueprint Conference.

Goals and objectives of StopFalls Network California:
Growing constituency to influence systems change is a key element of this work with several support objectives identified:

  • Make fall prevention an integral, well-funded part of a coordinated system of programs and services.
  • Create a statewide structure to interconnect fall prevention programs/coalitions to each other and to state experts and resources.
  • Identify and engage influential champions to help create system change.
  • Develop and implement a policy agenda for the state.
  • Assure quality continuing education for health and service providers.
  • Share best/promising practices.
  • Raise awareness that falls are preventable.

Funding the StopFalls Network California:
California is in the unique position of enjoying the Archstone Foundation support which provides the key funding sources; the CDHS contributes many in kind resources (e.g., staff time, the teleconferencing bridge line).

Organizations that are playing a key role in the Network:
There are over 135 organizations and key stakeholders in the StopFalls Network, so it is difficult to single out individuals. As a group, the local Area Agencies on Aging have played a significant role in Network activities.  In addition, each workgroup has three to four members who are excellent “catalysts” to help move the agenda forward. In addition to the many organizations and stakeholders involved in the Network, many supplemental organizations such as the Archstone Foundation funded coalition development grantees at the county/regional level. University programs, and social, health service, and injury prevention programs have joined the state effort.

Structure and function of the steering committee:
There is no steering committee. However, the entire Network meets at least annually, alternating between the South and North of the State. Communication with the Network member organizations is often via-list serve and through our Web site. Most of the work for each objective focus area is carried out by Committees on such topics as Policy,
Advocacy, and Sustainability; Media and Communications; Shared Resources;
Continuing Education; and the High Risk/Frail Older Adults focused workgroup.

2-3 challenges encountered:
It can be difficult to get our very busy members to volunteer their time to carry out workgroup “to do” lists. It is often same small group of tireless colleagues who do most of the work. In addition, California is a very large state, making it difficult to convene the entire Network of organizations.

2-3 successes to share:
There have been many successes over its four year history, but those that stand out include:

  • Establishment of Fall Prevention Awareness Week in California through a Senate Concurrent Resolution.
  • Coordination of a 2009 Fall Prevention Legislative Education Day, during which Network members visited 50 state legislators’ offices to advocate for increased attention to the issues surrounding older adult falls.
  • Activities undertaken by regional/community level coalitions where groups are conducting community needs assessments, inventories of resources, strategic planning, and community awareness/education activities.

Outcomes being monitored:

  • All of the workgroup action plan elements.
  • Member satisfaction with process and content.
  • Activities of members through a list summarizing what key members are currently doing in fall prevention.
  • Activities and outcomes of regional/county coalitions in different areas of California.

To learn how to become involved with the Network, contact:

Rachel Zerbo, MPH
Program Manager, State & Local Injury Control Section
California Department of Public Health
MS 7214 - PO Box 997377
Sacramento, CA 95899-7377
Phone: (916) 552-9854



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