Right Side Up helps senior citizens [UPDATED]Published 9:38am Monday, July 11, 2011 Updated 11:39am Monday, July 11, 2011
“Right Side up in Otter Tail County” is a program designed to reduce fall risk among senior citizens and improve their quality of life. This program is a collaborative effort of Lake Region Healthcare, Otter Tail County Public Health and Central Minnesota Area Health Education Center (CMAHEC).
Representatives of those three entities received the 2011 Minnesota Rural Health Team Award June 28 in Duluth. The award was presented during the 2011 Minnesota Rural Health Association (MRHA) Conference. This represents the largest statewide rural health group in the nation.
“Right Side Up in Otter Tail County received the award not only for its compassionate in-home efforts to reduce fall risk among seniors, but also to improve their quality of life,” said MRHA President Ray Christensen, who made the presentation. “This year’s awardees take a innovative interdisciplinary approach and commitment to health professional education.”
Right Side Up grew out of a nursing student’s project that included looking at the number of falls occurring in Otter Tail County. The student found that each year one in three adults over the age of 65 falls, and half of those experience subsequent falls.
“We who are involved with Right Side Up know the value of a home visit,” said Todd Johnson, Doctor of Pharmacy, who made the acceptance speech in Duluth. “In one home visit, one of our representatives could see right away the danger of a particular stairway. The spouse called a carpenter during our visit, to make things safer.”
Falls are the major cause of senior citizens needing nursing home placement.
Under the Right Side Up program, a Falls Committee evaluates patient cases and provides written reports to the individual and the primary healthcare provider. People who know of someone at risk for falling are urged to call County Public Health at 998-8351. A home visit will follow.
“By building a group of stakeholders in the collaborate for Right Side Up, we’re able to prevent falls among senior citizens in Otter Tail County,” said Johnson. “It’s important to identify gaps in preventing falls as well as seeing opportunities for education and services.”
Johnson credits the nursing student whose project snowballed into a successful countywide collaborative. This is a pilot program in Minnesota. The goal is to see other counties and communities establish similar programs.
“Through this program we’re not only helping prevent falls in the elderly,” he said, “but we’re also providing excellent educational opportunities in interprofessional patient care to health professional students.”