Did you know that if you are financially or physically unable to do it yourself, you can have a falls prevention grab bar installed in your home or a loved one’s home free of charge?
WhidbeyHealth EMS has teamed up with the Home Emergency Action Repair Team (HEART) of both South Whidbey and Central Whidbey Hearts and Hammers to provide professional installation of these grab bars. The grab bars are funded by the WhidbeyHealth Foundation.
HEART is a branch of the nonprofit organization, Hearts & Hammers, a group of local volunteers on South Whidbey and Central Whidbey, who repair and rehabilitate the homes of those who are physically or financially unable to do the work alone. The usual workday each year is the first Saturday in May.
However, the HEART team works year-round if a homeowner needs an emergency repair. This allows for members of our island community to maintain their independence and live the life they choose by staying in their homes safely.
“The free grab bar installation is a response to the prevalence of falls in those 65 years of age or older,” says WhidbeyHealth Paramedic Robert May, a Washington State Department of Health certified SAIL Coordinator. (SAIL stands for Staying Active and Independent for Life).
“Senior falls account for 15 percent of all calls to 911 here on Whidbey Island. Senior falls are not an inevitable part of aging and are absolutely preventable. Grabs bars placed and used in bathrooms will reduce these falls,” May says.
“This free grab bar availability is what Hearts & Hammers is all about,” says Clayton Granby, a South Whidbey Hearts & Hammers organizer. “Neighbors helping neighbors, building community, serving the volunteers and helping those folks that need help to stay in their homes safely.”
May says that WhidbeyHealth EMS is always looking for falls prevention ambassadors in our community. Since partnering with other like-minded organizations and individuals to promote SAIL, and to provide home-safety inspections and assistive devices like grab bars, the volume of 911 calls due to falls on Whidbey Island has decreased from 20 percent to 15 percent.
“That’s roughly 440 fewer falls that Whidbey Islanders have had to suffer,” May says.
To find out more information or to have a free grab bar installed, please visit the South Whidbey Hearts & Hammers website at www.heartsandhammers.com or the Central Whidbey Hearts & Hammers website at cwheartsandhammers.org or you can call CWH&H at 360-720-2114.