Public radio from Western Michigan University 102.1 NPR News | 89.9 Classical WMUK
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

A WMU research team tests a program to help prevent falls among older adults

Close-up picture of hands on a keyboard. There is a ring on the left ring finger.
Elise Amendola/AP
In this Monday, June 19, 2017, photo, a person types on a laptop keyboard, in North Andover, Mass.

The program is for healthcare workers, who are poised to play a preventive role, the researchers said.

Older adults make up an increasingly large share of the U.S. population, and preventing falls is an important part of keeping them healthy. A research team at Western Michigan University says it can help by training healthcare workers.

With a $412,612 grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, the “SaferCaring” group has created online modules aimed at changing healthcare providers’ behaviors, improving communication and problem-solving around falls prevention.

School of Interdisciplinary Health Programs Assistant Professor Cassie Lopez-Jeng said what makes the program unique is who it’s made for.

“It really is meant to ensure everyone that works in a facility —
that they do indeed have a role to play in falls prevention —
because they are part of the organization, they are part of the safety culture whether they believe that they are or not,” Lopez-Jeng told WMUK.

Three people pose for a picture in front of a large internal window. There are windows and staircases visible behind them.
Cori Osterman
From left to right, Candace Wise, Cassie Lopez-Jeng, and Steven Eberth of the SaferCaring team, at WMU's College of Health and Human Services on Thursday, March 2, 2023.

The group is testing the platform by sharing it with healthcare providers. The SaferCaring team said 300 people have used it to date.

Falls prevention expert Steven Eberth is part of the research group. (He was based at Western when the grant began, though he’s now an associate professor at Bradley University in Illinois.) In an interview in Kalamazoo last week, Eberth said feedback has so far been positive.

“Employees want to have a say,” he said. “They want to be heard. Our approach gives them that voice, it gives them an opportunity to engage in the process of collaborative problem solving in the organization, to be a part of preventing falls.”