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Florida Falls Prevention Coalition

History of the Florida Falls Prevention Coalition:
In recognition of the growing problem of falls and fall elated injuries in older adults and the growing number of older adults in Florida, the Florida Department of Health (DOH), Injury Prevention Program (IPP), formerly the Office of Injury Prevention, partnered with the Florida Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA) to host the initial Falls Prevention for Florida’s Seniors meeting on June 24, 2008. The meeting had approximately 85 attendees and served as the first step in establishing a statewide coalition. 

Key agencies and providers were invited to hear Kyla Shelton (IPP staff) present Florida’s older adult falls data. Lynn Beattie (National Council on Aging) shared a national perspective on older adult falls prevention and statewide coalitions, and Linda Scarpetta (Michigan Department of Community Health) shared the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grant funded initiatives and activities in Michigan. Peggy Haynes (A Matter of Balance) shared information on the program from a national perspective, and Martha Pelaez (Healthy Aging Collaborative of South Florida) shared the Matter of Balance program from a state perspective and new initiatives being developed through the Health Foundation of South Florida that serves Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties. John Hemphill (CDC) discussed preventing falls through environmental changes in residential housing. Don Hughes (City of Satellite Beach Fire Department) and Mark Brimer, City of Satellite Beach Mayor) presented a community-based multi-faceted strategy for falls prevention. The strategy included collaborative awareness messages, the fire department’s multi-step “fall” problem project, and a business environmental survey. The attendees were energized to see this community’s creative approach to falls prevention. 

Capitalizing on that energy and interest, attendees were invited to discuss the next steps resulting in a consensus that Florida needed to work towards a statewide coalition to address this important issue. Goal Team 3 of the 2009-2013 Florida Injury Prevention Advisory Council, made up of key representatives of a variety of health professions, state agencies, and communities, was created to provide statewide leadership, education, awareness, and intervention support in to reduce falls among older adults. Since 2009, Goal Team 3 has worked together as a state agency led advisory workgroup to provide several educational opportunities, trainings and support for evidence-based interventions, and technical assistance at the community level. Goal Team 3 is projected to continue its activities over the course of the upcoming 2014-2018 Florida Injury Prevention Strategic Plan. Highlights included the implementation of tai chi programs, an annual statewide educational webcast for Falls Prevention Awareness Day, and the development of a mini-grant program for community-level falls prevention projects.

In 2014, the Injury Prevention Program became the first state health department led program to complete two five-year injury strategic plans and begin a third five-year plan. Goal Team 3 will continue its activities for the current 2014-2018 Florida Injury Prevention Plan, including strategies to increase and expand evidence-based interventions, training opportunities, education and awareness.

Organizations that took the lead in developing the Florida Falls Prevention Coalition: 
The Office of Injury Prevention (OIP) within the Department of Health (DOH) partnered with the Communities for a Lifetime Bureau, within the Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA) to explore key partner interest and commitment.

Goals and objectives of the Florida Falls Prevention Coalition:
The 2014-2018 Florida Injury Prevention Strategic Plan facilitated by the Injury Prevention Program and the Florida Injury Prevention Advisory Council (FIPAC) includes the following fall prevention goal: Establish a collaborative effort to provide statewide direction and focus for fall-related injury prevention for Florida’s older adults. Goal Team 3 seeks to reduce the rate of fall-related injury deaths, hospitalizations and emergency department visits among adults 65 and older by providing leadership, education and training, policy change through public awareness, and evidence-based interventions for falls prevention.

Outcomes being monitored:
State-wide and county data on falls-related fatal injuries, non-fatal hospital admissions, and non-fatal emergency departments visits are tracked every year. Goal Team 3 tracks its activities through annual action plans, which is summarized by an annual report.

Funding the Florida Falls Prevention Coalition:
From 2005-2010, the Florida Injury Prevention Advisory Council and its goal teams was funded by the 2005-2010 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Injury Surveillance and Prevention grant. The Florida Injury Prevention Advisory Council and its goal teams’ activities are currently funded by the 2011-2016 CDC Core Violence and Injury Prevention (VIPP) grant.

Organizations playing a key role in the Florida Falls Prevention Coalition:
The Florida Department of Health, Injury Prevention Program has partnered with the Florida Department of Elder Affairs on several of its statewide prevention strategies. Other organizations who have played key roles include the Florida Department of Children and Families, Area Agencies on Agencies, Winter Park Health Foundation, Lee Memorial Health System Foundation, Florida State University, Broward General Medical Center, James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital, Agency on Health Care Administration, Florida Physical Therapy Association, Nature Coast EMS, Palm Beach Fire Rescue, Walgreens, and local falls prevention coalitions.

Leadership structure and function of the coalition:
Goal Team 3 is made up of two appointed leaders (for the duration of each Florida Injury Prevention Strategic Plan) and many members. The program coordinator of older adult falls prevention at the Florida Department of Health, Injury Prevention Program serves as liaison between the lead agency and Goal Team 3. There are two physical meetings a year and monthly conference calls. Goal Team 3 functions as an advisory workgroup to advance statewide efforts to reduce falls through leadership, education/awareness, intervention, and policy strategies.

Coalition committees:
There are no official committees on Goal Team 3, but small, temporary workgroups are created for specific projects.

Regional/county/local coalitions or workgroups you support/provide technical assistance:
Where there are nine established local falls prevention coalitions in Florida, other organizations continue to be developed. Goal Team 3 frequently partners with several types of organizations, including county health departments, Area Agencies on Aging, hospitals, trauma centers, non-profit agencies, among other organizations.

2-3 challenges encountered:
Florida is a very large state with a substantial (and growing) older adult population, so one major challenge is reducing falls in an increasing population while funding and resources are not increasing. Staff vacancies in the lead agency have also served as a barrier to continuity of progress.

2-3 successes to share:
Goal Team 3 communicates consistently with its strong and diverse group of stakeholders who are willing to give their time to assist with the effort. Since 2009, Goal Team 3 has provided an annual statewide educational webcast opportunity for health professionals as well as other individuals and organizations on a variety of falls prevention, among other educational events. Goal Team 3 has also helped sponsor training opportunities and support for evidence-based interventions such Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance.

Primary contact(s):

Lisa VanderWerf-Hourigan
Director, Injury Prevention Program
Florida Department of Health
4052 Bald Cypress Way Bin #A22
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1722
Phone: 850-245-4440 ext. 2776
Fax: 850-414-6470
Lisa.VanderWerf-Hourigan@flhealth.gov

Natali Ramirez
Government Operations Consultant III
Division of Statewide Community and Support Based Services
Department of Elder Affairs
4040 Esplanade Way, Suite 335E
Tallahassee, FL, 32399
ramirezn@elderaffairs.org
Office: 850-414-2131
Fax: 850-414-2194

Website: http://www.floridahealth.gov/prevention-safety-and-wellness/older-adult-falls-prevention/index.html

View the Florida recipients of the Falls Free® “Falls Prevention Certificate of Appreciation.”

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