|dc.description.abstract||The prevention of falls among older adults remains a significant and complex problem that cannot be solved without community collaboration, partnership, support, and expertise. Ontario’s Public Health Units (PHU) have a key responsibility in preventing falls by mobilizing with the community. While PHU’s do already work with community partners, little is known about what community partner mobilization strategies and practices are being employed by PHU professionals to prevent falls among community-dwelling older adults, whether these efforts are productive, which community partners they are working with, who best to work with, and what might be done to strengthen future practices.
This qualitative study explored and described the mobilization strategies and practices employed by public health professionals in Ontario’s PHUs in working with their community partners to prevent falls among community-dwelling older adults (65 years of age and older). Although fall prevention among community-dwelling older adults is an important public health issue and is part of a broader range of interventions by PHUs and partners pertaining to injury prevention, the primary focus of this research is on community mobilization.
A purposeful sample of five PHU professionals tasked with preventing falls among community-dwelling older adults, six community partners, and two future potential partners provided rich data through in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Interview questions explored the individuals’ knowledge, engagement processes, performance, benefits and challenges of community partner mobilization, and public health professionals’ views on capacity building and policy development. Analysis of the data, guided by grounded theory methods, generated multiple themes related to each topic.
Regardless of geographic location, population served, organizational and funding structure, all interviewed PHU professionals reported mobilizing with community partners. Community partners and future potential partners primarily represented not-for profit organizations, offering a range of services to older adults, although none were falls specific. The majority of participants had heard of the term community mobilization and defined it in terms of several major themes including engaging in action, gathering community support and involvement, establishing community togetherness and partnership, and change. Reducing and preventing falls and having seniors’ age in a much healthier way was described as a frequently shared mobilization goal or value among PHU professionals and their partners. However, descriptions of the purposes, community partner mobilization processes, and activities engaged in and the order in which these occurred varied among participants and research sites. Common themes describing activities engaged in included initiation, research and data collection, bringing people together, partnership organization, planning, implementation, and evaluating and reviewing work. Other themes related to roles, strategy performance, benefits, challenges, and views about capacity building were also found.
The findings of this study are discussed considering existing models of community mobilization used in public health practice in other jurisdictions and presents a practical community partner mobilization framework for future application. It advances knowledge by providing evidence of current mobilization practices to prevent falls and a conceptual approach to engage community partners for falls prevention among community-dwelling older adults.||en