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Date: September 20, 2005

UVic Helps to Stop Seniors From Falling

For some seniors, falling can be fatal. In fact, according to a recent falls prevention study conducted by the B.C. Injury Research and Prevention Unit (BCIRPU), one third of all seniors fall at least once a year, 90 percent of hip fractures are the result of a fall, and 20 percent of seniors die within a year of sustaining a hip fracture.

That’s why BCIRPU and researchers from the University of Victoria’s centre on aging are joining together to create a unique national curriculum aimed at preventing falls among seniors. The $300,000 three-year Canadian Falls Prevention Curriculum project, which is funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Population Health Fund, is a national initiative which will provide health professionals and community practitioners with proven methods of preventing falls.

“As Canada’s senior population continues to grow, it is expected that the incidence of falls and fall-related injuries and the associated costs will increase accordingly,” says the Honourable Keith Martin, member of Parliament for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, speaking on behalf of the Honourable Ujjal Dosanjh, minister of health. “We must use proven falls prevention strategies to keep our seniors healthy.”

The Ministry of Health also funds the B.C. Injury Prevention and Research Unit by providing just over $600,000 annually through the Provincial Health Services Authority to support the development of ongoing evidence and prevention activities. From this, approximately $245,000 is directed towards the prevention of falls in seniors, which includes the Canadian Falls Prevention Curriculum project.

“Improving the quality of life for seniors is a priority for the province,” says Health Minister George Abbott. “We know that the majority of falls among seniors are preventable. This is why supporting evidence-based programs like this is one more way we can look out for seniors’ needs in B.C.”

Drs. Vicky Scott and Elaine Gallagher, who lead the Adult Injury Management Network in the University of Victoria’s centre on aging, are recognized leaders in the field of falls and fall-related injury prevention among older people. Scott will be the principal investigator on this project and Gallagher will be assisting with the evaluation.

“One way seniors can reduce the risk of falling is by ensuring their environments are well lit and have clear walkways,” explains Scott. “We know what strategies work, but what was missing until now was a standardized way of imparting this message to all those who work with seniors in the community, hospitals or in residential care facilities. That’s why the curriculum project is such a great idea.”

The two-day course will be pilot-tested in Vancouver and Halifax, and revised based on participant feedback. A final pilot will be conducted in Ottawa. Once finalized, the course will be coordinated through BCIRPU and delivered by trained facilitators across the country on a cost recovery basis.
Media contacts:
Dr. Vicky Scott (Centre on Aging/B.C. Ministry of Health) at (250) 952-1520 or Vicky.Scott@gems1.gov.bc.ca
Dr. Elaine Gallagher (Centre on Aging) at (250) 721-7966 or egallagh@uvic.ca
Maria Lironi (UVic Communications) at (250) 721-6139 or lironim@uvic.ca
Aggie Adamcyzk (Public Health Agency of Canada) at (613) 941-8189
Public Affairs Bureau, B.C. Ministry of Health at (250) 952-1887

UVic media releases and other resources for journalists are available on the World Wide Web at http://communications.uvic.ca/media

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