Press Release

Press Release Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke Unveils New Walking Path

State leaders highlight efforts aimed at reducing falls among residents
For immediate release:
  • Soldiers' Home in Holyoke
  • Executive Office of Health and Human Services

Media Contact for Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke Unveils New Walking Path

Debra A. Foley

Ribbon Cutting l-r: Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke Superintendent Bennett Walsh, Donna Archambault, veteran residents, Henry Salvas, Roger Thomas, Daniel Kennedy, Edward Wrobleski; Representative Brian Ashe, Secretary of Elder Affairs Alice Bonner; Department of Veteran Services Secretary Francisco Ureña; Senator Donald Humason

HOLYOKEIn recognition of Falls Prevention Awareness Month, the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke  unveiled a new outdoor walking path and highlighted its mobility program aimed at preventing falls among veteran residents.

Across the United States and the Commonwealth, falls are the leading cause of injuries among adults aged 65 and older. In 2017, Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders assembled a team of experts that specialized in nursing home quality and falls prevention to address fall risk factors at the Home and implement innovative strategies to improve outcomes and keep residents safe. As a result, the Home has seen a dramatic reduction in the number of falls— down from 9.8 (falls per 1000 days) in July 2017 to 4.4 in July 2018. Additionally, mobility among residents has increased by 30%. Now, 1 in 3 veterans are considered “actively mobile”.

“It is my honor to officially unveil the Soldiers’ Home’s new walking path which will provide safe, accessible opportunities for physical activity to residents. The Home deserves great credit for the progress made in reducing the rate of falls among its veteran residents,” said Massachusetts Elder Affairs Secretary Alice Bonner, a nationally recognized falls researcher who led the review of the Home. “The commitment to falls prevention, healthy aging and quality care is evident in the data trends and these achievements, and the culture of continuous quality improvement that they represent, are a tribute to the entire Soldiers’ Home community; its leadership, staff, and the veterans themselves.”

The Homes’ Enhancing Mobility & Falls Prevention Program follows national, evidence-based practices and up-to-date standards to reduce major injuries associated with falls. It focuses on four main components:

  • An exercise program which uses strength and balance exercises to help reduce falls. There are currently 15 veterans participating.
  • A weekly walking group where veteran residents, who are able to walk without assistance, walk laps with staff on the ground floor. Participants walk between 1-99 laps each week (22 laps is equal to one mile). There are 17 veterans participating.
  • A restorative ambulation program that helps veterans maintain goals achieved during physical therapy by requiring veterans to get up and go for a walk outside of therapy on a regular basis. There are currently 43 veterans participating.
  • A new “Answer the Call, Prevent the Fall” initiative that allows any employee to respond to a call bell.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every 11 seconds an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall. In addition to the emotional toll falls have on individuals and their families, the financial toll to treat these injuries continues to skyrocket. In 2015, the total cost of fall injuries was $50 billion across the U.S., and is expected to increase as the population ages.

“The families of our veterans here at Holyoke can rest assured that their loved ones are receiving the best, safest care possible,” said Department of Veterans Services Secretary Francisco Urena. “We are grateful for the support of the state’s Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance for the beautiful walking path which will provide a safe outdoor space for physical activity for veterans and their families.”

“We have made great strides in mobility enhancement and falls prevention as we continue to provide care to our veterans with honor and dignity,” said Holyoke Superintendent Bennett Walsh. “It has been a true team effort and I would like to thank Secretary Sudders, Secretary Ureña, Secretary Bonner and the entire Soldiers’ Home staff for all of their hard work.”

Founded in 1952, the Soldiers' Home in Holyoke is a state-funded, fully accredited health care facility that offers veterans quality health care, hospice care, including full-time residential accommodations, an on-site dental clinic, veterans’ assistance center, and a multi-service outpatient department. In May, the federal Department of Veteran’s Affairs 2018 clinical survey found that the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke met every clinical standard for health and life safety.


Media Contact for Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke Unveils New Walking Path

Executive Office of Health and Human Services 

The Executive Office of Health and Human Services is the largest secretariat in state government and is comprised of 12 agencies, in addition to 2 soldiers’ homes and the MassHealth program. Our efforts are focused on the health, resilience, and independence of the one in four residents of the Commonwealth we serve. Our public health programs touch every community in the Commonwealth.