Consider innovative partnerships to reduce falls, experts say

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Senior care stakeholders should consider creative partnerships to reduce falls, according to an expert on a National Council on Aging/IlluminAge Communication Partners webcast yesterday.

While healthcare professionals in geriatric and acute-care settings are active champions of fall prevention awareness and reduction efforts, a more broad-based effort is needed, said Lisa Shields, senior falls prevention program coordinator for the Injury and Violence Prevention program of the Oregon Health Authority.

Oregon is one of three states participating in a five-year, federally supported fall prevention effort, Shields said. It has launched 15 coordinated care organizations, and the state provides some insight into what future fall prevention efforts might look like.

The CCOs are networks of physical, mental and dental providers for Oregon's Medicaid program, and serve about 90% of the program's members, said Shields.

The state health agency has provided training to CCO staff on fall prevention programs such as Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance. The OHA also worked to have fall prevention made a stand-alone incentive measure for CCOs, and has so far succeeded in having it included under the ambulatory care/emergency department utilization measure.

Most of OHA's focus has been on preventing falls among beneficiaries eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare, Shields noted.

Shields also said health plans can be important partners in fall prevention efforts. For example, Silver Sneakers is a program that runs classes to improve seniors' mobility, which is offered by Oregon health plans such as Providence and Blue Cross-Blue Shield. A recently introduced Silver Sneakers program provides classes for nursing homes, Shields said.

Other speakers on the call addressed the role universities play in fall prevention, and provided guidance for Falls Prevention Awareness Day events, taking place this year on Sept. 22.

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