A Matter of Balance Volunteer Lay Leader Model
A Matter of Balance is designed to reduce the fear of falling and increase activity levels among older adults who have this concern. The original program was developed and evaluated by the Roybal Center for Enhancement of Late-Life Function at Boston University, with a grant from the National Institute on Aging. Under the original model, a healthcare professional - frequently a nurse or physical therapist - delivered the program.
What is the Volunteer Lay Leader Model?
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In October 2003, Partnership for Healthy Aging, Southern Maine Agency on Aging, Maine Medical Center's Geriatric Center and the University of Southern Maine received grant funding from the Administration on Aging to translate A Matter of Balance into a program that uses volunteer lay leaders instead of healthcare professionals to deliver the Matter of Balance class. Because the Matter of Balance Lay Leader Model uses volunteer lay leaders instead of healthcare professionals, it reduces the cost to deliver the program. Therefore, it can be offered more frequently, reaching a significantly higher number of older adults.
PFHA provides master trainer training sessions that prepare organizations to offer A Matter of Balance in their communities. Master trainers are responsible for teaching the Matter of Balance curriculum to coaches and providing them with guidance and support as they lead the Matter of Balance classes.
The Matter of Balance Volunteer Lay Leader Model has proven to be as effective as the original program. Significant improvements for participants were found regarding their levels of falls efficacy, falls management, falls control, exercise and social limitations with regard to concerns about falling.
This model was distributed and evaluated throughout the state of Maine, through a network of 14 master trainer sites. The collaborative developed a structured tool kit and curriculum as part of a master trainer program. Organizations can be licensed as master trainer sites to train coaches and implement the program in their communities. A Matter of Balance is now offered in 36 states, the District of Columbia, and British Columbia, Canada.
To learn more about the steps taken to adopt this program and the lessons learned during the implementation process, read the Matter of Balance Volunteer Lay Leader Replication Report.
Healy, T.C., Peng, C., Haynes, P., McMahon, E., Botler, J., & Gross, L. (2008). The feasibility and effectiveness of translating A Matter of Balance into a volunteer lay leader model. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 27(1): 34-51.