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New Jersey Fall Prevention Workgroup

History of the New Jersey Fall Prevention Workgroup:
The workgroup was formed in early 2009 to develop and implement a community-based, falls prevention campaign geared to older adults.  The impetus for the workgroup came from the New Jersey Interagency Council on Osteoporosis (ICO), which identified community-based fall prevention as a goal in its strategic plan.

The ICO was established in 1997 under the N.J. Osteoporosis Prevention and Education Program Act (PL1997, Ch 191).  Funding for program activities was provided through supplemental funds through 2001; however, there has been no funding since that time.  The Council is mandated with a number of tasks including developing a public education and outreach campaign to promote osteoporosis prevention and education, and developing educational materials for consumers. 

Organizations that took the lead in developing the New Jersey Fall Prevention Workgroup:  
The Division of Aging Services (DoAS), NJ Department of Human Services took the lead in recruiting ICO members, A Matter of Balance Master Trainers and others in the field of fall prevention to join the workgroup.  DoAS is the NJ’s designated State Unit on Aging.

Goals and objectives of the New Jersey Fall Prevention Workgroup:  

  • Develop a tool kit for fall prevention awareness week for the 21 local Area Agency on Aging; a comprehensive fall prevention campaign including the effects of medication on fall risk, poor vision as a fall risk, the importance of exercise in fall prevention and home safety educational materials.
  • Review, evaluate and distribute falls data to local stakeholders.
  • Initiate a statewide fall prevention awareness effort, including several local events.
  • Develop and/or gather brochures/educational materials for prevention programs.
  • Develop and disseminate a community-based fall prevention health education session as part of an ongoing statewide health promotion initiative.
  • Provide input into building capacity for the “Matter of Balance” program.

Outcomes being monitored:
Outcomes being discussed: increased number of agencies holding local events for fall prevention week, increased fall prevention activities held for older adults throughout the year, and increased partnerships.

In addition,A Matter of Balance” outcomes will be evaluated to strengthen program delivery. Data on hip fractures, the BRFSS optional osteoporosis module, and falls data by county will be assessed.

All funding sources for the New Jersey Fall Prevention Workgroup:
Currently the New Jersey Fall Prevention Workgroup does not receive dedicated funding.

Organizations that are playing a key role in the New Jersey Fall Prevention Workgroup:
We are excited to have a motivated group of diverse representatives. Organizations that are involved include: Middlesex, Somerset and Sussex County Area Agencies on Aging; Rutgers University School of Pharmacy;  Rutgers Cooperative Extension;  LifeStrong;  Department of Physical Therapy, Seton Hall University; Center for Exercise and Aging, Rutgers University; UMDNJ-Division of Internal Medicine; Arthritis Foundation, NJ Chapter; Center for Health Statistics, DHSS; and Office of Planning and Development, DHSS.

Leadership structure and function of the Workgroup:
Staffed by DACS, the workgroup falls under the larger Interagency Council on Osteoporosis.  The workgroup met monthly to implement Falls Prevention Awareness Week.  The workgroup now meets every other month.

Workgroup committees:
The workgroup is discussing developing two committees: 1) data review/dissemination committee and 2) educational materials development committee. 
           
Regional/county/local coalitions or workgroups you support/provide technical assistance:
The goal is to provide the 21 AAA’s with a fall prevention toolkit to increase activities, not only during fall prevention week but year round.

2-3 challenges encountered:
The workgroup is in the formative stages and as such has not encountered major barriers.
Our overall challenge is to raise awareness of falls as a major issue among older adults in New Jersey and to decrease the number of older adults experiencing a fall.
           
2-3 successes to share:
We had an extremely successful first year!  Our fall prevention campaign involved having a Governor’s Proclamation for fall prevention week, 11,000 educational placemats distributed statewide to every congregate meal site, fall prevention presentations at nutrition sites and supporting 4 local events, which screened over 300 seniors for balance, blood pressure, vision and podiatry checks.  We are looking forward to future initiatives!
           
The New Jersey Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Injury Surveillance and Prevention discusses older adult falls in Preventing Injury in New Jersey: Priorities for Action.

For additional information on the New Jersey Fall Prevention Workgroup and an opportunity to join this exciting work, contact:

Maryann Marian
Division of Aging Services
NJ Dept. of Human Services
PO Box 807
Trenton, NJ 08625
609-588-2819
maryann.marian@dhs.state.nj.us

Preventing Injury in New Jersey: Priorities for Action Plan: http://www.state.nj.us/health/chs/oisp/documents/injury_prevention.pdf

Read the New Jersey Falls Prevention Profile to learn more about falls in the state. The Falls Prevention State Profiles were created to assist in education activities supporting falls prevention initiatives for older adults.

View the New Jersey recipients of the Falls Free© “Falls Prevention Certificate of Appreciation.”

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Sept. 23 is National Falls Prevention Awareness Day!

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