Minnesota Hospital Association

Quality & Patient Safety

Community Falls Prevention: Keeping Older Adults Active, Independent and Safe from Falls

Falls are the number one cause of unintentional injury deaths for Minnesotans age 65 and older, exceeding motor vehicle accidents since 2007. One of the major factors that increase the risk of falling is mobility problems due to impaired balance, muscle weakness or chronic health conditions. 

The goal of the Community Falls Prevention project is to address fall and fall-injury prevention across the state in all settings through: 

  1. Collaboration between hospitals, long-term care organizations, clinics, the community, and other settings to share and implement success strategies to prevent falls, fall-related injury and to maintain physical and cognitive functioning for Minnesota’s older adults.
  2. Improving communications between settings during transitions to allow the next setting to provide more informed care.

The Community Falls Prevention project has three phases:

  1. A coalition of key stakeholders is convening to develop common goals and objectives to create an integrated model of fall prevention practices across the community.
  2. The models and tools developed by the coalition will be tested and adapted by three Minnesota communities – Fergus Falls, Onamia and Staples.
  3. In the final phase of the project, best practices, implementation strategies and tools will be finalized based on the learnings from the three community projects and will be disseminated across the state.  

For more information, contact the MHA patient safety/quality team

Community Falls Prevention tool kit

Roadmap Component  Specific Action Tools
GENERAL   -Gap analysis
-Community Falls overview (PowerPoint presentation)
-Preventing Falls: How to Develop -Community-based Fall Prevention Programs for Older Adults (CDC guide)
-CDC STEADI tool kit
FALLS SCREENING 1. Assign a person to coordinate the fall risk screening and referral implementation process.
2. Identify point people from the appropriate setting(s) to champion the implementation effort.
3. Implement a falls screening process in the following settings:
clinic, home care, assisted living, outpatient hospital, inpatient hospital, nursing home
4. Implement safety precautions for older adults at risk for falling. 
-Fall Risk and Fall Injury Screening Algorithm
-Fall Risk and Fall Injury Screening Tool
-30-second Chair Stand Test
-Mobility and Balance Testing: Instructional videos
FALLS ASSESSMENT 1. Implement a referral process to a provider for at-risk patients -Sample form: Fall Risk Checklist (STEADI tool kit)
COMMUNITY EDUCATION/SERVICES 1. Implement evidence-based programs.
2. Implement a referral process to community programs in the following settings:
clinic, hospital, home care, assisted living
3. Implement a referral process for other services, as appropriate: medication review, home safety review, therapy
4. Implement transportation support in the community to enable older adults to participate in community programs.
-Fall Prevention Program Components
-Fall Prevention Program Checklist (CDC guide: Chapter 2)
-Building Blocks of Effective Community-based Fall Prevention Programs (CDC guide: Chapter 7)
-Identifying Partners Checklist (Appendix B)
-Sample form: MHA Community Falls Prevention - Planning document
-Sample Home Fall Prevention Safety Checklist (Appendix G)
COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP/COALITION 1. Complete a readiness assessment for a fall prevention coalition/partnership in the community.
2. Designate a lead(s) coordinator for the program.
3. Identify and recruit members from across the community to implement the program.
4. Implement the coalition/partnership to develop and oversee the strategic plan for addressing fall prevention in the community. 
5. Develop and implement a sustainability plan to ensure long-term viability and review and update the strategic plan throughout the year. 
6. Develop a measurement plan to track progress. 
7. Implement a process to share data with partners and with the community. 
8. Develop and implement a communication strategy to promote participation in community falls efforts.
-Readiness Assessment Checklist
-Coalition Building: Starting a Coalition (Chapter 5, Section 5)
-Quick Reference Guide
-Fall Prevention Coalition Members
-Area Agencies on Aging Map
-Developing a Strategic Plan (Chapter 8, Sections 1-7)
-Developing Effective Coalitions: An Eight Step Guide (Prevention Institute)
-Conducting a Successful Campaign for Fall Prevention (Chapter 7)
-Fall Prevention Program Sustainability Plan (Appendix K)
-Tracking Falls in the Community
COLLABORATION BETWEEN HOSPITALS AND LONG-TERM CARE 1. Implement a process to communicate key fall risk and injury information between hospitals and nursing homes.
2. Implement a process to community key fall risk and injury information between nursing homes and hospitals.
3. Coordinate regular meetings between hospitals and nursing homes within the community to discuss barriers and strategies for falls prevention. 
-Sample form: MHA Safe Care Transitions for Care 
-Hospital Falls Screening Algorithm

Additional Resources

The Collaboration Primer: Proven Strategies to Get You Started. This primer, developed by the Health Research and Education Trust (HRET), provides helpful information partnerships and tools to create and sustain collaborative efforts.

Developing Effective Coalitions: An Eight Step Guide. Cohen L, Baer N, Satterwhite P. Developing Effective Coalitions: An Eight Step Guide.  In: Wurzbach ME, ed. Community Health Education & Promotion: A Guide to Program Design and Evaluation. 2nd ed. Gaithersburg, Md: Aspen Publishers Inc; 2002: 144 – 161.

What Makes An Effective Coalition? This paper was funded by and prepared for the California Endowment in March 2011. It outlines characteristics of an effective coalition and includes a Coalition Capacity Checklist.     

National Council on Aging

Minnesota Healthy Aging