Fall Prevention Program Led by an Inter-Professional Education Team in an Urban Adult Public Housing Community
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Falls in older adults are a leading cause of injury deaths, hospitalizations, and emergency department (ED) visits in New York State (NYS). More than 132,000 fall related injuries requiring hospitalization was reported in 2011 by the NYS Department of Health. Nearly 60% of fall-related hospitalizations and 36% of fall related ED visits resulted from a fall that took place at home. Problem: Although fall prevention programs exist, most require residents to travel outside their home environment to participate. Given the limited resources of residents who reside in an urban adult housing complex, this may present as a deterrent to attending such beneficial programs. Additionally, such programs may not address significant issues within the home or health related barriers. The consequences of an elderly person falling are financially straining and critical to overall well-being. Intervention: An Inter-Professional Education (IPE) Team from an Academic Medical Center in collaboration with community resources developed a Fall Prevention Program aimed to lower the incidence of falls among residents of an urban adult housing community. Community resources involved the local community college and cooperative education services. In addition, the team includes a community member as a resident health advocate. The fall prevention program focused on multiple risk factors including therapeutic exercise, vitamin D supplementation, respiratory function, patient education, and medication management. As these interventions do not fall within the scope of practice of any one health profession, the need for an inter-professional collaborative effort was apparent. The team consists of physical therapists, respiratory therapists, and nursing health professionals. Baseline fall rates will be collected through ED visit data to evaluate the effectiveness of the program. Conclusion: Using an IPE collaborative effort involving physical therapy, respiratory therapy, and nursing, a fall prevention program can be designed to address multiple risk factors indicative to falls. The goal is to demonstrate decreased fall risk among residents of an urban adult housing community, resulting in decreased ED visits for fall related injuries. This initiative stresses the importance of inter-professional collaboration to our students and future leaders to improve the health and well-being of the communities to which we serve.