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Seniors’ falls are avoidable

Innovating a safer world for older adults
By Trish Barbato
Increasingly, the senior living sector is realizing that it needs to embrace innovation to meet the expectations of today’s and tomorrow’s older adults. Revera understands the need to listen to seniors and design a better aging experience. Trish Barbato, Senior VP of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships, is driving Revera’s focus on innovation.

Falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalization for Canadian seniors. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, between 20 to 30 per cent of Canadian seniors fall each year. With nearly six million people in Canada over the age of 65, the numbers are staggering.

Falls and their resulting injuries not only harm the senior, but also affect family, friends, care providers and the health care system. There is hope, however, as many of these falls can be avoided through injury prevention strategies and innovations.
“Revera is focused on reducing injuries from falls through our physical programming as well as innovative solutions that will improve the aging experience.“
Revera takes falls very seriously. In fact, it’s our aim to reduce injuries from falls amongst our residents by 50 per cent by 2020. Through our experience working with seniors in our residences and homes, we have learned that a combination of innovation and exercise is the best strategy for us to meet this aim and empower seniors to live independent and meaningful lives.

Every year, we encourage frontline teams from our Retirement and Long Term Care divisions to come up with innovative ideas that will help our residents live their lives to the fullest. This year, our focus was on solutions to reduce falls. The submissions from Revera’s residences and homes across the country were truly remarkable.
I’m grateful to be a part of such an incredible group of dedicated and passionate innovators. The winning submission from Beechwood and Kingsway Retirement residences, which we are now investigating further, proposed a new signature Revera program called Sleepwell. This program focuses on improving sleep quality through various innovations including a sleep tracking app to ensure residents are fully rested and cognitively recharged to prevent falls. We are also exploring an idea to institute new insole technology that stimulates nerves in the wearer’s feet to help with balance and mobility, as well as experimenting with home assistant technology, such as Amazon Echo, to see if there is an application that will prevent falls. Training on how to fall to prevent injury and general awareness of fall prevention techniques, was another winning submission.

Our recreation teams across our Retirement and Long Term Care divisions are fully committed to reducing injuries from falls. To meet our aim, they launched the innovative Tiered Exercise Program (TEP). This leadership program trains our frontline teams on how to deliver programming designed to improve or maintain the physical abilities of older adults who are at risk of falling.
This program was designed by the Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging (CCAA) based out of Western University in London, Ontario, and is tailored to each senior’s ability and need. Clara Fitzgerald, Executive Director at CCAA, says “appropriate exercise is our only defence against losing functionality and mobility as we age. To ensure you maintain the highest degree of function and mobility possible you must keep moving your body.”

I’m excited to combine the TEP with the ideas from our frontline employees. These initiatives will help us to reduce falls and ensure our residents are able to maintain their active lifestyles.

Older adults deserve a world that allows them to live life to the fullest. Revera is focused on reducing injuries from falls through our physical programming as well as innovative solutions that will improve the aging experience. Helping seniors stay active and mobile is one way we support their meaningful, purposeful lives.
Trish Barbato
By Trish Barbato
Trish Barbato is Senior VP, Innovation & Strategic Partnerships for Revera Inc. Ms. Barbato is responsible for driving a culture of innovation across Revera and for establishing Revera’s global presence as a preeminent, industry-leading senior’s innovation partner and investor.