Report from the EU Falls Festival in Bologna

Bologna, Italy, 01. March 2016

Our JOIN Research Officer, Georg Aumayr, attended the EU Falls festival. Falls are phenomena that affect numerous lives in Europe. The JOIN Office is involved in looking for fall prevention programs for its members. The JOIN Office also supports its members in the realisation of such projects through networking, monitoring of funding opportunities and policy making. The EU Falls Festival  was held in Bologna, Italy. Here is an insight into his first day at the Festival.

The first day started with an overview of recent results and integration approaches of fall prevention programs in Europe, as well as in Canada and Brazil. A session on successful implementation methods, hosted by Dawn Skelton, opened a day full of high quality presentations. Various examples from countries such as Belgium (by Koen Milisen), Scotland (by Ann Murray), France (by Julia Hughes) and Italy (by Maria Luisa Moro) proved that fall prevention can be successful and beneficial to all participants.

Following this enlightening session the international examples were presented, hosted by Jorunn Helbstad and Clemens Becker. The Canadian example of a national fall prevention program, presented by Vicky Scott, showcased both the opportunities as well as the potential pitfalls of such a large scale implementation.  It was followed by Monica Perracini from Brazil, who gave insight into a WHO perspective on implementation at a global scale. She highlighted that falls are not solely a phenomenon of an aging society but are related to aging in a much broader sense. In countries where the average age is lower than that of most European countries, the risk of falls is just as high or even higher. Falls are therefore a transregional problem.

A major issue is the financing of these programs. Not all programs can be covered by project funding. Therefore, the sessions organised in the afternoon were business oriented. It is mandatory to adjust business models to the needs of an aging society. A change in these models would have to start with innovation in procurement. Louis Potel from HAPPI showcased the benefits of joint public procurements. In closing, Marlou Bijlsma said that one should not have to start from scratch each time they use standards of interoperability. It should be possible to use existing ICT (information and Communication Technology) solutions as a baseline.

After a full day of exciting presentations, ideas on how to realise sustainable fall prevention programs were wavering in the heads of the audience. A spirit of restlessness and inspiration to start something new was tangible. With all the high quality content and performance; it was a celebration of science and research – a true Festival.   

Picture by Georg Aumayr