Robyn Skiff, MS, is a program coordinator for Medical Home Self-Management with the UVM Medical Center’s Community Health Improvement office.

Robyn Skiff, MS, is a program coordinator for Medical Home Self-Management with the UVM Medical Center’s Community Health Improvement office.

Our Matter of Balance program coaches are real winners!  Our team of trained volunteer coaches are among the 49 Chittenden County volunteers to earn one of this year’s United Way Building Block Awards, which recognizes volunteers who help build a strong community in the areas of education, income and health.  The Matter of Balance program is one of several free self-management programs offered by Community Health Improvement at the University of Vermont Medical Center designed to increase people’s ability to manage their own health and live active fulfilling lives.

Chances are you know someone who has fallen, or is afraid of falling. Falls among older adults are the leading cause of unintentional injury, both fatal and non-fatal, in Vermont. In fact, Vermont’s older adults have significantly higher fall rates than the national average Click here to view the data brief.

Older adults often respond to falling or being concerned about falling by reducing their activity level, unaware that doing so actually increases their fall risk.

The Matter of Balance class series helps older adults learn to view falls and fear of falling as controllable, set realistic goals for increasing activity, change their environment to reduce fall risk factors, and promote exercise to increase strength and balance. To see what participants learn in each class click here.

“I have seen the positive effects of Matter of Balance (MOB) in my own life and in the lives of some of the people I have coached,” says Mary Scully, trained coach and one of our award winners. “I recently visited with someone who attended MOB classes with me about 3 years ago. She told me she has incorporated exercise into her daily life as a result of what we began in the MOB class. And despite some physical challenges, she has not had a fall since she started exercising.”

Because Matter of Balance is delivered by trained volunteer leaders using the Volunteer Lay Leader Model, we are able to reduce the cost of delivering the program and offer it free of charge to participants, enabling us to reach more people with the program. 

Together with our dedicated volunteer coaches, who skillfully deliver this evidence based intervention, we are working to reduce the number of falls suffered by older adults, and help ensure that Vermonters stay–as one participant put it recently–“alert and vertical”!

Our award-winning team!

Our award-winning team!

Our Building Block Award winners were honored at the United Way’s LIVE UNTED Breakfast on September 4, 2014, at the Sheraton in South Burlington. They each received a Certificate of Thanks from United Way of Chittenden County and a pair of tickets to fall performance donated by the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts. Congratulations team, we couldn’t do it without you!

We need more coaches! Call 847-2278 or email selfmanagement@vtmednet.org if you or someone you know might be interested.

Did you know? September 23 is National Fall Prevention Awareness Day, the theme is Strong Today, Falls Free Tomorrow. Check with your local Agency on Aging for upcoming events!

Robyn Skiff, MS, is a program coordinator for Medical Home Self-Management with the UVM Medical Center’s Community Health Improvement office.

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