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Buffalo, NY 14210-1485
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Newest phase of Step Up to Stop Falls continues to strengthen and expand falls prevention work

Each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older falls. One in 10 falls end up with a hospitalization. In fact, falls are the leading cause of injury deaths, hospitalizations and emergency department visits among adults 65 and older. Falls can result in lasting, serious consequences that affect a person's mobility, independence and mental health. Falls are also costly - according to the Centers for Disease Control, medical costs for treating falls totaled more than $19 billion in 2000. By 2020, those medical costs are expected to reach $54.9 billion.

The good news though is that many falls are preventable.

The Health Foundation for Western and Central New York is committed to reducing the devastating physical and financial impact resulting from falls.

For more than six years, the Health Foundation has supported projects to defer this trigger of decline by reducing falls and the impact of falls for older adults who are at risk of losing their ability to live independently.

In 2007, the Foundation teamed up with local and regional elder care agencies to form the Western New York Falls Prevention Consortium.

Using what was learned in this early work, the effort expanded into the Step Up to Stop Falls Collaborative in 2009.


Because of Collaborative’s success, the Foundation made an additional investment to strengthen and expand this work in 2010. Coalitions and grantees in seven counties are working on projects focused on changing not only the behaviors and habits of seniors who are at risk for falls, but also in changing professional practices to support a better understanding about falls risks, assessment and intervention. Participating counties include Allegany, Cattaraugus, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Onondaga, and Tompkins.

The Foundation’s investment proved to be highly effective in reducing falls and produced the Step Up to Stop Falls Toolkit
, now available online. This easy-to-use toolkit has a variety of resources for older adults, their caregivers and health care professionals who work with older adults, including exercises to improve strength and balance, a home safety assessment checklist and professional screening and competency guidelines.

To learn more about the 2010-2012 Falls Prevention Collaborative and its work, please click here.

Step Up to Stop Falls - Phase Two

Building on the successes of the past six years of falls prevention work, the newest phase of Step Up to Stop Falls includes three components:

  • Erie County: Strengthen and Spread
  • Diffusion Coalitions: Strengthen and Expand
  • New Counties: Participation in Step Up to Stop Falls

Erie County

In 2012, the Health Foundation awarded grants to organizations in Erie County that have been successful in their previous efforts to reduce falls in order to further strengthen their ability to impact long-term falls prevention, including:

  • Brothers of Mercy
  • Buffalo Rehab Group
  • Erie County Department of Senior Services
  • McAuley Seton Home Care
  • University at Buffalo Occupational Therapy Department
  • Visiting Nurse Association of Erie County

The table below provides additional information about each project.


Project Focus

Brothers of Mercy

Add to their home safety and exercise programs with an assessment of medications related to falls and clinical assessment of medical problems that increase risk for falls.

Buffalo Rehab Group

Expand the falls risk assessment and intervention to all six Buffalo Rehab locations. They will integrate the use of FOTO (Focus on Therapeutic Outcomes) across all settings to gather risk-adjusted function pre- and post-intervention. 

Erie County Department of Senior Services

To create an interactive resource for NY Connects staff to share information about local falls prevention services and programs. In addition, the role of the 50 case managers in Erie County will be modified to include a screen for falls risk and connection with appropriate services

McAuley Seton Home Care

Integrate its falls assessment into its EMR and enhance the organization’s medication review to include a specialize review of falls risks. A pharmacist will review medications and provide recommendations to physicians to reduce risks for patients identified with fall risks.

University at Buffalo Occupational Therapy Department

Develop step-by-step training for older adults and families to use the Home Safety Self-Assessment Tool (HSSAT) to understand how to make changes to improve home safety. The result will be a hard copy instruction manual and an online video. 

Visiting Nurse Association of Erie County

Put in place a comprehensive multi-factorial fall prevention program. VNA professional staff will be trained in use of HSSAT, the Otago Program (a CDC-endorsed falls intervention program), and medication review for falls risk.

Community Coalitions


To support successful community coalition grantees in strengthening their existing work and bolster their long-term sustainability, the Health Foundation also provided funding to six community-based coalitions:


The lead agencies are:

  • Allegany/Western Steuben Rural Health Network Inc., Allegany County
  • Health Community Alliance Inc., Cattaraugus County
  • GLOW-YMCA and Genesee County Office of the Aging, Genesee County
  • DeGraff Hospital - Kaleida Health, Niagara County
  • Onondaga County Department of Aging and Youth, Onondaga County
  • Tompkins County Human Services Coalition, Tompkins County

New Counties

As another part of the expanded falls prevention initiative, the Health Foundation worked with selected new counties to help them study the impact of falls in their communities and to develop plans to support older adults in the community through reducing falls and their consequences.

The Health Foundation supported each county’s effort to define partnerships and organizational structures that fit each county’s needs and encouraged learning between the new counties and the broader Falls Prevention Collaborative to achieve maximum benefits for older adults living in the community.

As a result of this work, in November 2013, the Health Foundation awarded grant funding to three new coalitions in Cayuga, Herkimer and Oswego counties in central New York to implement projects that will reach older adults in the community and impact professional practice to reduce falls and falls-related injuries.

For more information on the Health Foundation’s Falls Prevention initiative, email falls@hfwcny.org.

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