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Wellmark Foundation grant funds fall prevention program in Johnson County

Grant, chosen from 150 requests, will increase awareness among older Iowans

February 15, 2011

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(Des Moines, Iowa) – Elder Services, Inc. in Iowa City will use a two-year, $115,415 grant from the Wellmark Foundation to implement a fall prevention program in Johnson County.

The program will be implemented through the Sure Steps Coalition, a community-wide coalition of organizations that supports wellness and health in older adults.

Sure Steps increases awareness, provides training for community providers
Sure Steps Fall Prevention Program will increase community awareness of falls as a personal and public health concern, says Mary Willie, aging specialist for the Johnson County Livable Community, one of the organizations providing leadership for the Sure Steps Coalition.

The project engages seniors, family caregivers, in-home service and health care providers, and acute care personnel in a comprehensive community-based project. Objectives of the project include:

  • Increasing awareness of older adults, families and caregivers about risk factors and prevention strategies
  • Expanding use of fall prevention services by older adults
  • Increasing exercise among older adults
  • Improving access to fall prevention training for community providers
  • Coordination services between acute and community based care providers

Sure Steps features a public awareness campaign promoting fall prevention, A Matter of Balance program to help older adults gain strength and improve balance, and personal risk and home assessment tools for care practitioners.

Broad coalition supports the program
Coalition members include:

  • Elder Services, Inc.
  • Heritage Area Agency on Aging
  • Johnson County Livable Community
  • Johnson County Public Health
  • University of Iowa College of Nursing
  • University of Iowa Geriatric Education Center
  • University of Iowa Injury Prevention Research Center
  • Visiting Nurse Association of Johnson County

Grant one of only 17 competitively selected
The Wellmark Foundation is a non-profit foundation that seeks to improve the health of Iowans, South Dakotans, and their communities. Through its 2010 Healthy Communities Grant Program, the Foundation received nearly 150 grant requests. This grant award to Elder Services represents one of 17 competitively awarded to establish or expand health initiatives throughout Iowa and South Dakota.

Cumulatively, The Wellmark Foundation is proud to award $1,334,817 to these 17 grants to serve as catalyst funding for local health projects.

“Nearly 20 organizations are coming together to implement this program in Johnson County,” says Matt McGarvey, the Foundation’s director. “Elder Services and their partners have a clear commitment to prevent falls among older Iowans, and their program will serve as a model for other communities.”

About Elder Services, Inc.
Elder Services, Inc. (ESI) is the premier regional resource specializing in services for elders and their caregivers in east-central Iowa. Elder Services, Inc. provides programs, services, and resources to assist persons age 60 and over in Johnson County and east central Iowa to stay active, independent, and safe in their homes.

For more information on Elder Services, Inc. and its programs, contact Mary Willie, (319) 330-1630 / For more information regarding the Wellmark Foundation and its grant programs, visit



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