If you have a parent or grandparent who is an older adult, you might already know how devastating a fall can be. Falls pose a serious threat to the health and independence of people 65 years and older.
Every second of every day an older adult falls in the United States, making falls the number one cause of injuries and deaths from injury among older adults. More than one in four older adults fall every year, and more than half of those who fall won’t tell their healthcare provider.
Pharmacists can play a pivotal role in helping people avoid falls by discussing the issue with patients before they happen. By helping patients review and manage their medications, pharmacists can identify prescriptions that cause dizziness, sedation, confusion, blurred vision, or orthostatic hypotension. They can also screen patients for poor balance or vitamin D insufficiency. Armed with this knowledge, patients and their caregivers can learn to prevent falls.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention contracted Brunet-García to help develop a video-based pharmacist training program for the Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths, and Injuries (STEADI) initiative.
Titled “STEADI: The Pharmacist’s Role in Older Adult Fall Prevention,” the online training provides pharmacists with the knowledge, skills, and ability to identify fall prevention strategies. After completing the training, pharmacists are able to:
- Describe the burden of falls among older adults.
- Identify health conditions and types of medications that increase fall risk.
- Implement fall screening, assess risk factors and offer prevention strategies.
- Discuss strategies to improve patient care coordination for fall prevention.
Brunet-García consulted with subject matter experts at CDC and across the country and stakeholders at the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) to develop the training, which was launched and promoted at APhA’s annual meeting in March.
Senior Account Manager Anna Jaffee led the project, which included almost every aspect of the agency’s skills, including video, web design, and user experience design. The project challenged the Brunet-García to develop new skills in creating video-based online trainings.
“I’m passionate about injury prevention, given the majority of my work with CDC.” Jaffee said. “By developing this pharmacist training, we’re raising awareness and addressing a missed opportunity for pharmacists to begin taking on a larger role in fall prevention with their older patients. It provided me the opportunity to coordinate all areas of the Brunet-García to result in a creative, interactive, and functional training.”
Public Health Marketing Specialist Keenan Farrar helped develop of the overall course structure and content, working closely with experts to write and refine the course curriculum and interactive learning modules.
Based on behavior change theory and an extensive literature review, followed by feedback from pharmacists, Brunet-García worked closely with subject matter experts to develop learning objectives, overall course design, and training curriculum. The final product included knowledge checks, post-test questions, and an interactive case scenario to allow pharmacists to apply fall prevention strategies into practice.
Working with a large team across the country and nearly all areas of our own agency, it was critically important to communicate regularly—almost constantly.
“We were also on tight timeline, so no matter how carefully we planned every step of the project—from content development, creative design, filming, editing, and course building—we had to remain flexible in order to adapt when faced with unexpected hurdles,” Farrar said. “Actually, if I learned one thing during this project, it was to expect the unexpected and keep (steadily) moving forward.”
User experience designer/developer Bruce Cooke developed the user interface for the training. Working closely with his design and development colleagues, he built the interface that would guide the learner through the training. This involved showcasing videos, testing what they’ve learned, reinforcing the learning, presenting helpful resources, and showing how to pharmacists can collect educational credit.
“This was intensive,” Cooke said. “We maximized software efficiency and developed options for learners—no matter what browser they were using.”
Testing and accommodating older browsers presents special challenges that need to be considered, either from a development or user experience aspect.
To date, 338 pharmacists have registered for the training, and 176 have completed it.