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GeriPal - A Geriatrics and Palliative Care Podcast

Feb 15, 2024

We've talked about Falls a couple of times on this podcast, most recently with Tom Gill about the STRIDE study and before that with Sarah Szanton about the CAPABLE study.  A takeaway from those podcasts is that fresh innovative thinking in the falls prevention space is welcome.

Today we talk with the twin sister power duo of Carmen Quatman and Katie Quatman-Yates about an intervention that is both brilliant and (in retrospect) should have been obvious.  The insight started when Carmen, an orthopedic surgeon-researcher, and Katie, a physical therapist- researcher participated in ride-alongs with EMS providers to patient’s homes.   They were stunned by the number of calls for lift assistance for older adults who had fallen. Going into patient's homes was eye opening. There were trip hazards, loose carpets, some people were hoarders. And yet, after assisting the older adult to their feet, the EMS providers would leave. Their job was done. It's not surprising that the number of repeat calls for falls is alarmingly high.  Addressing the root environmental causes of falls was not part of EMS providers' job description.  In addition to stigma, practical barriers to older adults addressing environmental issues themselves abound. For example, Carmen and Katie found thousands of grab bars on Amazon (overwhelming), and when they called installation companies (handypersons), received different quotes if the person calling was a man or a woman.

So Carmen and Katie developed an EMS Community Partnership program.  EMS providers were trained to provide practical home modifications: installation of grab bars, removal of carpets, removal of other obstacles. They created a seamless link between this Community Partnership program and 911 calls for falls.  People who had grab bars installed through the program called their neighbors and say, hey you should get this too.  Word of mouth spread rapidly.  And the number of calls for falls dropped.

Eric and I enjoyed talking with Carmen and Katie about this innovative and common sense approach to addressing falls in the community.

In addition to the podcast, you can see more about this in Carmen's TEDx talk.

Thanks to my wife Cindy Hsu for piano on Eye of the Tiger. Enjoy!