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Massachusetts Falls Prevention Coalition

History of the Massachusetts Falls Prevention Coalition:
A Massachusetts Department of Public Health Falls Prevention Coalition was formed in January 2007 as a satellite committee of the Massachusetts Injury Community Planning Group (now known as the Massachusetts Prevent Injuries NOW! Network). Concurrently, similar falls prevention groups were being formed by the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts (the trade group for home care agencies) and the MAssachusetts Senior Care Association (the trade group for long term care and assisted living facilities). The lead organizers met, and determined that having one umbrella coalition would be valuable; the Massachusetts Falls Prevention Coalition was born.

Membership has expanded significantly to over 50 organizations and individuals, including hospital and nursing home administrators, vision specialists, pharmacists, rehabilitation professionals, physicians, insurers, advocates, seniors and others.  Two symposia were hosted in May and November 2007, devoted to community-based interventions. The First Statewide Falls Prevention Symposium was held in May 2008, attended by more than 800 providers, legislators, seniors and interested public health professionals from across New England.

We remain committed to broadening our reach to seniors and to raising our own visibility as providers of sound advice and practical, working programs to older adults and to the healthcare community in our state.

Organizations that took the lead in developing the Massachusetts Falls Prevention Coalition:
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the MAssachusetts Senior Care Association ( the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts took the lead in the integration of their separate fall prevention initiatives which resulted in the state coalition.

Goals and objectives of the Massachusetts Falls Prevention Coalition:
The formally established mission is:  to promote healthy lifestyles, behaviors and strategies to prevent falls and fall-related injuries and maintain independence and autonomy; to reduce the incidence and severity of falls and fall-related injuries across the lifespan in Massachusetts; and to promote collaboration, communication and training among the subgroups (individual task forces), so that information and best practices can be shared across settings for individuals transitioning from one setting to another.
To achieve the mission, the Coalition objectives that have been established include:

  • helping older adults learn effective methods of remaining independent;
  • conducting an environmental scan of existing programs/resources; and
  • examining gaps in existing data to identify what do we want to collect and measure and how can we do it

Funding for the Massachusetts Falls Prevention Coalition:
A variety of funding opportunities have been located and include support from the MAssachusetts Senior Care Association; private insurers, especially those serving seniors; the Boston Foundation; and the Division of Health Care Quality, Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Organizations that are playing a key role in the Massachusetts Falls Prevention Coalition:
The 40 partnering organizations that are playing key roles include:

  • Executive Office of Elder Affairs
  • Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts
  • MAssachusetts Senior Care Association and MAssachusetts Senior Care Foundation
  • Massachusetts Department of Public Health (several divisions)
  • assisted living, senior housing
  • Massachusetts Hospital Association
  • Massachusetts Association of Health Plans and other insurers
  • State legislators
  • Professional associations such as the Massachusetts Medical Society and others

Structure and function of the steering committee:
The steering committee meets quarterly with its many subcommittees and regional committees meeting more often as needed.

2-3 challenges encountered: 
Among the many challenges, obtaining sufficient funding for evidence-based interventions and marketing of our prevention messages stands out. Advocacy efforts to obtain legislative support in the House of Representatives have been challenging as well. Finally, fostering a shared vision among all partners with such diverse backgrounds and interest has been challenging to the coalition.

2-3 successes to share:

  • Developed and launched “Keys to Independence,” a social marketing campaign that included a1-800 information line for older adults.
  • Instituted Matter of Balance training for Massachusetts seniors with the program coordinated by the Massachusetts Department of Health; trained 30 health care providers in Matter of Balance
  • Hosted a statewide Symposium that attracted 800 attendees across New England.
  • Implemented a voluntary reporting system for falls by all Massachusetts hospitals that is housed on a public website.
  • Developed a new falls risk assessment tool for long term care that is being made available through several Massachusetts websites.
  • Expanded the coalition to include Western Massachusetts Regional Falls Prevention Coalition to meet the needs of seniors and health care providers in that rural/remote region.
  • Disseminated Standards and Best Practices for falls prevention in home-based care, including risk assessment tools and benchmarking resources.

Outcomes being monitored:
Although early in its development, the coalition has established outcomes of interest that include:

  • resource sustainability for the coalition activities;
  • rates of falls, fatal falls, falls with serious injury by town/zip code; and
  • the number of community and institution-based falls prevention programs, and the number of individuals/organizations who attend one or more programs

Massachusetts has been able to attract additional “seed” funding from private companies and from the Department of Health office of health care quality, but as yet has no permanent mechanism in place to fund the coalition beyond August 2010. It is believed  public awareness has increased somewhat thanks to paid and earned media efforts, and the release of 2006 death data showing 78 percent jump in fatal falls statewide. The coalition has completed a survey of hospital, home care, long term care and community programs across the state and has educated/trained well over 600 long term care staff, held a webinar for several hundred hospital staff, and trained over 35 home care and related staff in the Matter of Balance program. Additional Matter of Balance master trainers are currently being trained. However there is a recognized need to improve the evaluation/outcome measures, and this will be a focus for the coalition over the next year.

For additional information, contact Coalition Lead:

Carlene Pavlos, Director
Division of Violence and Injury Prevention
Massachusetts Department of Public Health
250 Washington Street
Boston, MA  02108
617 624-5491 (phone)
617 624-5075 (fax)



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