Office of Rural Health and Primary Care - aging services models

Successful Model for Rural and Underserved Communities

Right Side Up: Interprofessional Falls Prevention and Education Team

Geographic Area: Otter Tail County

Description: Right Side Up includes medical, pharmacy and physical therapy students on clinical rotations at Lake Region Healthcare in Fergus Falls. In addition to well over 30 students, Right Side Up includes a nurse practitioner, a physical therapist, two nurses and three pharmacists. The entire Right Side Up team works together to assess the risk of elderly community members falling and makes recommendations to decrease fall risk.

When a family member or health care provider refers an individual with a history of falls or the potential to fall, Right Side Up arranges a home visit. During a home visit:

  • A public health nurse or home health nurse (with a nursing student when available) conducts a nursing and environmental assessment
  • A pharmacy student reviews all prescription and over the counter medications found in the home
  • A medical student reviews the individual’s clinical record and laboratory tests and interviews the client about health conditions
  • A medical student (and a physical therapy student when available) conducts a balance and strength assessment.

Preventing a fall can be as simple as moving rugs, installing safety bars, improving nutrition and strength, consulting with a physical or occupational therapist or adjusting medication to minimize light-headedness, dizziness or lethargy. Encouraging people to be active by walking around their home for 10 minutes three times a day and making simple changes in their home can help.

With assistance from a nurse, the students present recommendations to reduce the risk of falls to the entire team during a monthly face-to-face meeting. After a thorough discussion, written recommendations are sent to the individual who was assessed and the primary care physician.

Background: Right Side Up grew out of a nursing student’s project that looked at the number of falls occurring in Otter Tail County.

Each year one in three adults over the age of 65 falls and half fall again. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related mortality in those 75 or older. Primary risk factors for falls include medical conditions, multiple medications, environmental hazards, and age-related changes in vision and balance.

Outcomes: The Team is an example of collaboration across disciplines. This team approach prevents fall and provides insight into identifying gaps in preventing falls as well as opportunities for education and services. This team’s efforts at reducing falls are improving the quality of life for seniors.

Students gain knowledge and skills in geriatric care. This early experience with an interprofessional approach to patient care also helps the students gain confidence in their abilities.

The local community benefits from being able to recruit professionals from this pool of students.

Challenges: Coordinating schedules with many individuals for the home visits and follow-up evaluations.


  • Central Minnesota Area Health Education Center
  • Lake Region Healthcare
  • Minnesota Board on Aging- Area Agencies on Aging
  • Minnesota Department of Health Chronic Disease Division
  • Otter Tail County Health Aging Collaborative
  • Otter Tail County Public Health Department
  • University of Minnesota Center on Aging
  • University of Minnesota Extension Service
  • University of Minnesota Geriatric Education Center
  • University of Minnesota Health and Nutrition Program.

Funding from the Medical Education and Research Costs and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Health and Safety Education Grant.

Plans for the Future:  In the hopes that their work can be helpful to other communities and counties in Minnesota and in other states, the IPE Falls Team is sharing their successes, challenges and outcomes at statewide and national conferences.

Contact:Laurissa Stigen, director of the Central Minnesota Area Health Education Center at 218-736-1601 or

A printable version of this model (PDF: 160KB/2pgs)

Return to Successful Models home page

Updated Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 03:18PM