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Washington State Senior Fall Prevention Coalition

History of the Washington State Senior Fall Prevention Coalition:
Awareness of the magnitude of the senior falls issue resulted from presentations and contacts made during the 4-year CDC grant to pilot and evaluate a community-based senior fall prevention program (2002-2006). 

The first state coalition meeting was held in November 2007.  The coalition recommendation was 2-4 meetings per year, and we have been following that recommendation. In the interim, coalition members receive email updates with articles, fall prevention awareness day activities, and resources.

The first meeting focused on senior falls data, the development of the state program, best practices, local projects underway including a visioning exercise for the state coalition, discussion of purpose and features of the coalition, challenges we face, potential activities the coalition would provide and support and recommended membership.

The second meeting (May 2008) included an update on activities related to state legislation and a presentation to the Governor on senior fall prevention; interactive feedback and brainstorming on potential approaches for statewide uptake; coalition structure, including identifying subcommittees; member interest forms for participating on specific committees, and special topic presentations that responded to the interests expressed at the first meeting. 

Among the Special Topic Presentations at each subsequent meeting, we have included a session on social marketing, conducted by Nancy Lee, an author and international expert on the topic. With that background, the coalition has embarked on developing a social marketing tool kit.   

Organizations that took the lead in developing the Washington State Senior Fall Prevention Coalition:  
The Washington State Department of Health, the NorthWest Orthopaedic Institute (now defunct), and the Washington State Department of Social & Health Services took the lead in developing the State Coalition.

Goals and objectives of the Fall Washington State Senior Fall Prevention Coalition:  
The purpose of the Washington State Senior Falls Prevention Coalition is to reduce falls among seniors in Washington State through:  

  • Professional Development
  • Public Education
  • Advocacy
  • Networking
  • Resource Development
  • Referral

Outcomes being monitored:

  • Fall prevention awareness day activities
  • New coalition start-ups
  • Dissemination and uptake of tools and programs

All funding sources for the Washington State Senior Fall Prevention Coalition:
Department of Health (staffing); Department of Social & Health Services (coalition meeting costs)

Organizations that are playing a key role in the Washington State Senior Fall Prevention Coalition:
Contributions to coalition activities are being made by numerous community partners.  

Leadership structure and function of the Washington State Senior Fall Prevention Coalition:
Leadership is provided by the Department of Health. 

Coalition committees:
Advocacy; Funding and Sustainability; Professional Education/Best Practices; Communications/PR; Membership; Consumer Education

Regional/county/local coalitions or workgroups you support/provide technical assistance:
In addition to the 12 county/regional/local coalitions and workgroups, there is a strong effort to support individuals and organizations engaged in fall prevention work. 

2-3 challenges encountered:

  • Community partners have only limited time to devote to state coalition activities outside of meetings.  This has proven a challenge in terms of the state coalition committee work.

2-3 successes to share:

  • The commitment and creativity of community coalitions is astounding, as each integrates the strengths of the community organization(s) sponsoring the work.
  • Through funding from the Department of Social & Health Services, we contracted with a physician/expert on falls to develop guidelines for integrating screening and referral for senior falls into primary care practice – a project we hope to build on

For additional information on how to join this exciting effort in Washington, contact:

Mary Borges
Injury Prevention Program
Department of Health, PO Box 47853
243 Israel Rd SE, Olympia, WA 98504-7853

Washington State Injury and Violence Prevention State Plan for Older Adult Falls;


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