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North Carolina Falls Prevention Coalition

History of the North Carolina Falls Prevention Coalition:
In February 2007, in conjunction with a number of aging and chronic disease-related grants that the NC Division of Aging and Adult Services and the NC Division of Public Health were partnering on, the two Divisions entered into a written memorandum of agreement, formalizing their respective commitments to each other and the intent to partner on future projects. Both Divisions were also working on a grant with the Institute on Aging at UNC-Chapel Hill. As a result of ensuing dialogue between all three agencies, they quickly recognized shared concerns over the high morbidity and mortality associated with falls in the older adult population that would, without significant intervention, increase substantially as baby boomers aged. All three agencies were also aware of interest being generated on the national level around falls prevention.

These three agencies, enhanced by the addition of the Carolina Geriatric Education Center, provided a strong core of agencies with diverse strengths that combined into a successful partnership.

The first NC Falls Prevention Coalition meeting was held in April 2008. Interest was very high, with numerous key leaders and stakeholders present from a multitude of organizations. The need was agreed upon and coalition objectives were identified. At subsequent meetings, Coalition members addressed strategies to meet the goals and objectives. The core group will continue in its facilitative role while also seeking funding.

Organizations that took the lead in developing the North Carolina Falls Prevention
The initial organizing partners included: the NC Division of Public Health; the NC Division of Aging and Adult Services; the Institute on Aging, UNC-Chapel Hill; and the Carolina Geriatric Education Center.

Goals and objectives of the North Carolina Falls Prevention Coalition:

  • Establish and maintain a statewide Falls Prevention Coalition of key state, regional, and community stakeholders to systematically identify needs, resources and successes and to build capacity for falls prevention throughout the state.
  • Develop and apply effective social marketing materials and practices to engage and better inform the public and constituencies about falls risks and proven strategies to reduce falls.
  • Identify, develop and implement training programs at state, regional, and community levels for both clinical and community providers to raise falls prevention awareness and enable them to plan, deliver and evaluate effective evidence-based falls prevention programs and practices/interventions.
  • Create and implement plans to identify and establish necessary complements of risk assessment and intervention strategies at the state, regional and community levels to address the varying and diverse needs of those at risk for falls.
  • Monitor the growth and outcomes of falls prevention initiatives. Evaluate and disseminate findings and lessons learned from the process and outcomes of the initiative on at least an annual basis. Use information and conclusions to set new goals and strategies for upcoming year and seek resources to continue falls prevention activities.
  • Assess, advocate, and facilitate the development of policies, environments, and resources that advance falls prevention.

Outcomes being monitored:

  • Number and reach of evidence-based interventions in the state
  • Number and reach of Falls Prevention Awareness Day activities
  • Workgroup activities
  • Number of organizations involved in the falls prevention coalition
  • Hospitalizations and deaths due to falls
  • Number of local or regional falls prevention coalitions in the state

All funding sources for the North Carolina Falls Prevention Coalition:
Funding for the Coalition has been provided by the NC Division of Public Health, the Carolina Geriatric Education Center, the NC Department of Insurance, and a grant from the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors.

Organizations that are playing a key role in the North Carolina Falls Prevention Coalition:
Ongoing leads in the coalition include the NC Division of Public Health; the NC Division of Aging and Adult Services; the Institute on Aging, UNC-Chapel Hill; and the Carolina Geriatric Education Center.

Leadership structure and function of the steering committee:
The organizational leads from the NC Division of Public Health, the NC Division of Aging and Adult Services, the UNC Institute on Aging, and the Carolina Geriatric Education Center serve in the steering committee role and meet monthly. Additionally, the workgroups (listed below) are led by Chairs, and the Chairs meet with their committees at each quarterly meeting.

Coalition Workgroups:

  • Infrastructure Development and Maintenance
  • Community Awareness and Education
  • Provider Education
  • Risk Assessment and Behavioral Intervention
  • Surveillance and Evaluation
  • Advocacy for Supportive Policies and Environments

Regional/county/local coalitions or workgroups you support/provide technical assistance:
Regional coalitions have been formed in the western and eastern areas of North Carolina, and we are working in partnership with their initiatives.

2-3 challenges encountered:

  • Due to competing priorities, coalition members have only limited time to devote to state coalition activities.
  • Keeping momentum in the workgroups can be challenging since coalition attendees vary from meeting to meeting.

2-3 recent successes to share:

  • Falls prevention is now included as one of the NC Division of Public Health’s top three unintentional injury priorities in its Injury and Violence Prevention Strategic Plan 2009-2014, in the NC Institute of Medicine’s prevention report, as part of the injury recommendations for the state’s Healthy People 2020 initiative, and in the State Aging Services Plan.
  • Secured funding from the following sources:
    • NC Division of Public Health
    • NC Department of Insurance
    • National Association of Chronic Disease Directors
    • Carolina Geriatric Education Center
  • With the funding from the NC Division of Public Health in 2010, four regional falls prevention workshops were held across the state. The workshops raised fall prevention awareness, educated target audiences on fall prevention strategies, developed partnerships with key fall prevention stakeholders and other organizations that serve older adults, and built capacity to address fall prevention in the various regions. Additionally, funding was used to conduct five focus groups with diverse groups of elders to explore core beliefs about falling and understand and influence behaviors related to falls and falls prevention.
  • For the academic year 2009-2010, worked with a group of four University of North Carolina graduate students Capstone student projects. The students created falls prevention social marketing presentations and materials, conducted focus groups (described in the previous bullet), and assisted with falls prevention policy development for the state.
  • Secured a proclamation for the state’s first Falls Prevention Awareness Week in 2009; this week will continue to be observed on a yearly basis.

For additional information and an opportunity to join this exciting work in North Carolina, contact:

Sharon Rhyne, MHA, MBA
Health Promotion Manager
Chronic Disease and Injury Section
NC Dept of Health and Human Services
Division of Public Health
5505 Six Forks Road
1915 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1915
Phone: (919) 707-5205
Ellen Schneider
UNC Institute on Aging
720 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.      CB #1030, UNC-CH
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-1030
Phone: (919) 843-8528


North Carolina’s Strategic Plan for Preventing Injuries and Violence:


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