5248.0: Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - 4:30 PM

Abstract #4103

A matter of balance: Utilizing art and political skills to implement a proven senior health promotion program in a community

Kathleen Turner, MSW, MPH1, Lynne Karsten, MPH1, and Charlotte Millman, LICSW2. (1) Community Health, Brookline Public Health Department, 11 Pierce Street, Brookline, MA 02445, 617-730-2336, kathy_turner@brookline.mec.edu, (2) Brookline Council on Aging, 61 Park Street, Brookline, MA 02445

This paper describes the art and political talents utilized to bring a proven senior health promotion program to a local community. Three town agencies joined forces with a medical center and community volunteers to bring the award winning “Matter of Balance” program to local senior citizens. The collaboration ensured that the program would be affordable to seniors of varying socio-economic groups. This model can be replicated elsewhere.

Balance difficulties and fear of falling increase as seniors age. The “Matter of Balance” program, developed to reduce seniors’ risks of falling, promotes physical exercise, group activities, cognitive restructuring and education. The program, which has been analyzed and validated for effectiveness, won the Archstone Foundation Award for Excellence in Program Innovation at the 1998 APHA meeting. The challenge to the local agencies was how to operationalize this program using limited resources.

The town agencies identified volunteers who, along with staff from the agencies, would serve as program teachers. Program teachers were required to participate in a two-day training program. A local medical center underwrote expenses to train program leaders. This enabled the town to offer the program to residents at no cost, assuring seniors of all socio-economic groups access to the program. In two years, the “Matter of Balance” program has run six times, reaching more than 75 seniors.

This paper describes project successes, including effective collaboration among town agencies; successful recruitment of community volunteers, identification of essential underwriting and effective outreach to seniors of varying socio-economic groups.

Learning Objectives: Recognize the importance of identifying key community leaders critical to program success. Understand how to select appropriate volunteers for a senior health promotion program. Develop funding resources with links to senior community. Develop an outreach plan that will insure participation by seniors of varying socio-economic groups

Keywords: Community Collaboration, Community-Based Health Promotion

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: Roybal Center for Enhancement of Late-Life Function, Boston, MA
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA