Elaine Gallagher Award

Dr. Elaine Gallagher is a Professor Emeritus in the UVic School of Nursing and held an adjunct appointment in the gerontology program at Simon Fraser University. She served as the third director of UVic's Centre on Ageing. In the past two decades her research has focused primarily on understanding the causes of falls among the elderly and preventing them, important work given that one-third of all seniors fall at least once a year, 90% of hip fractures are the result of a fall, and 20% of seniors die within a year of sustaining a hip fracture. Much of her work has been action research using both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods.

One of her studies, the STEPS (Studies of Environments which Promote Safety) program, received national attention when it was released and has had a major impact on the way communities (including Victoria) are doing business with the elderly. In STEPS' original nine-month survey in the Capital Regional District (CRD), over one-quarter of the falls reported resulted from tripping over uneven sidewalks. After analyzing the 700 reports of falls in the CRD, STEPS produced a video and a safety manual on the design and maintenance of safe public environments. Thus her research results have had the effect of transforming practice.

In 2002, Dr. Gallagher was named the top nurse researcher in Canada by the Canadian Association of Nurse Researchers: "Dr. Gallagher's commitment to researching the myriad of issues that affect the health and safety of older people has profoundly advanced Canada's knowledge on how best to support the independence and quality of life of Canadian seniors," said CANR President Lesley Young-Lewis. "Her research in the area of injury and falls prevention has raised awareness of and interest in the reduction of morbidity and mortality. She exemplifies not only the conduct of research, nationally and internationally, but the dissemination of the results worldwide."

Dr. Gallagher received a Women of Distinction award in 1996 from the Victoria YWCA for her work on elder abuse and gerontological nursing. She was named Outstanding Alumni of the Year by SFU in 2007 and has been a key member of two groups receiving the BC Premier's Awards for work on making cities and towns more "age-friendly". She has recently completed working with First Nations in the Cowichan Valley and across BC on a project to reduce falls and fires among elders living on reserves, and continues to provide consultation to community groups with interests in improving the well-being of seniors.

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