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Solano Community Foundation (SCF) makes grants each year from the United Way Health Endowment Fund to support healthcare services and health-related programs for adults 65 years and older, living in Solano and Napa counties. For 2014 SCF's focus is on senior fall prevention; to reduce falls and fall-related injuries by assessing risk factors and making lifestyle changes, home modifications, and proper diet to dramatically reduce the risk of falling.
Research shows that falls by seniors and their resultant injuries are preventable and are not random events. Voluminous and clear evidence shows adults 65 years and older are more prone to falling because of natural loss of muscle strength; declining balance and coordination; diminished vision, loss of hearing, and slower reflexes. Diabetes, neuropathy, and heart disease also affect balance; and certain medications affect vision and cause drowsiness and dizziness.
Research shows us that one in three seniors, 65 and older, will fall during their lifetime. Forty percent will be hospitalized and about half of those hospitalized will die from complications related to the fall. According to the 2010 Census there are roughly 55,000 people age 65 and over in Solano County, which means that approximately 19,000 individuals could fall, which could be catastrophic for the individual as well as a financial burden on the individual, their family, health providers, clinics and hospitals.
Solano County did not have a Fall Prevention Program, but thanks to the Area Agency on Aging serving Napa and Solano (AAoA), and a $60,000 grant awarded from the United Way Health Endowment Fund, there is one now! Stop Falls Solano County has been established as a program to effectively help reduce falls among older adults in Solano County that cause serious injuries, loss of independence, placement in a nursing home, and death. Along with the $60,000 SCF/UW Health Endowment Fund grant, AAoA contributed $40,000 available and designated for Fall Prevention efforts.Area Agency on Aging serving Napa and Solano (AAoA) already provides comprehensive fall prevention services for Napa County residents through their Stop Falls Napa Valley (SFNV) Program. The program uses a multi-factorial, coordinated approach recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Center of injury Prevention and Control.
Program goals for this new endeavor include addressing the issue of falls among the elderly in a comprehensive way, using exercise as a preventive measure, improving referral networks, expanding outreach and educating providers (and the community at large) about the benefits and necessity of a robust fall prevention program.
The 2014 grant for $60,000 from the United Way Health Endowment Fund awarded to the Area Agency on Aging Serving Napa and Solano is being used to help establish "StopFalls Solano County", a fall prevention program for Solano County seniors aged 65 years and older. This program is a first for Solano, and is patterned after StopFalls Napa Valley which currently serves Napa County residents. Laura McLaren was hired as the Fall Prevention Coordinator for Stop Falls Solano County by the Area Agency on Aging. She and program partners are actively and successfully moving forward seeking referrals, making home visits, conducting screenings, and providing initial multi-factorial assessments for participating seniors.
Funding for the pilot program runs to June, however, with the enormous success realized in such a short time, funding to help make the program permanent may soon be a reality. Stop Falls Solano County is modeled after the successful SFNV program.
Listen to the John Young interview with Laura McLaren, Fall Prevention Coordinator for Stop Falls Solano County, with the Area Agency on Aging. For more information about the program and how to make a referral, please call Laura at (707) 643-1797.
The fall prevention program designed for Solano residents includes an initial multi-factorial risk assessment to look at an individual’s chronic health conditions, medication use, and fall history. A tailored exercise program led by a therapy aide will be created, and follow-up assessments done at 3 and 6 months to measure outcomes will be conducted. Data sharing within a network of healthcare providers to successfully link community-based organizations, health care institutions, public agencies, and the business community together will help reduce the incidence of falls and injuries suffered by falling.
In early January 2002, Solano Community Foundation and United Way of the Bay Area entered into a community partnership through the establishment of a non-endowed fund, the United Way Health Fund. The establishing gift was made from proceeds received in 1987 from the sale of the nonprofit Institute for Preventive Medicine.
In late 2010 the non-endowed fund was closed, and United Way used the assets held to establish the United Way Health Endowment Fund. SCF was named successor for the "new" endowed fund, thereby cementing our partnership with United Way. The Foundation now holds and manages the permanently endowed assets. In honor of their partnership and generosity, United Way’s name lives on in the Fund name, and “health” is the broad focus and purpose for annual grantmaking.
“Health” is a vastly complex field, covering numerous facets of the lives of both our Solano County residents, and of our Napa neighbors. Each calendar year, SCF selects one facet of “health” as the focus of our competitive grant process. Funding requests are solicited in response to SCF’s request for proposals (RFP), to address the identified health-related issues in Solano and Napa Counties. One or more competitive awards are then made each year to support organizations providing the programs and services needed.
The focus of the 2013 United Way Health Endowment Fund Grant Program was to fund nonprofit organizations able to increase access (or make access available) to healthcare services and programs for adults 65 years and older. Of the five qualified applicants, three nonprofit organizations were selected to receive a grant. A total of $48,000 in funding was awarded to three nonprofit organizations. The grantees and purpose of funding is shown below.
Florence Douglas Senior Center, Vallejo. Awarded $15,000 to help support the FDSC Health Service Program. Grant monies will be used to ensure that the Center continues to provide a year round program of direct and preventative healthcare activities to seniors in Vallejo (and surrounding Solano communities). The FDSC serves approximately 2,200 seniors each month who would otherwise not have access to basic care treatments due to their lack of financial and/or transportation resources.
Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, Concord. Awarded $15,000 to help support the FBCCS Senior Food Program. Monies will be used to increase the number of food distributions made to seniors each month by staff and volunteers. FBCCS currently distributes free bags of carefully selected food twice per month, at nine distribution sites, to an average of 1769 low-income seniors in Solano County.
Calistoga Family Center, Inc., Calistoga. Awarded $18,000 to help support the CFC Senior Services Program. Grant monies will be used to increase the scope of services provided for out-patient medical care, improve accessibility to in-home support and medical care, and to continue to provide food, shelter and clothing to seniors. The program will serve 300 seniors in the next twelve months with application assistance, guided referrals, and case management when they co-host their second annual Health/Insurance Fair to be held in January 2014.
Two grants were made from the fund for a total of $17, 050. The specific grantmaking goal was to provide funding for programs that increased access and availability of healthcare services and programs for disabled veterans. Five nonprofit organizations were invited to apply for a mini-grant (maximum of $10,000). The grantees and their respective awards are shown below.
“Community foundations are the United Way’s natural partners across the region. Together, we are the guardians of community-based philanthropy. The staff and Board leadership at the Solano Community Foundation was instrumental in forging our unique collaboration. Our goal is to transform communities and improve lives. Working with the Community Foundation, we are making great progress in Solano County. We are a great collaborative partnership.” - Anne Wilson, CEO, United Way of the Bay Area