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senior man balances with help from health care provider, with marche vers le futur logo

Marche vers le futur– supporting Francophone older adults through a fall prevention telehealth program


In Canada 20-30% of older adults fall every year with serious consequences. It remains a leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations for seniors and can mean a loss of mobility, independence, and greater social isolation.

Jennifer O’Neil, PhD, Affiliate Investigator with the Bruyère Research Institute and registered physiotherapist has long recognized how fall prevention activities are important. For Francophone minority communities, accessing such programs in French can be a challenge and leads to lower participation.

Marche vers le futur (MVF) is a French-language telehealth fall prevention program, developed in Ottawa by an occupational therapist Jacinthe Savard, PhD and physiotherapist Dominique Cardinal that is effective in reducing fall risk factors in Francophone adults aged 55 and over. Since the success of its first local pilot where O’Neil delivered the program in her role as a physiotherapist, the MVF team has been dedicated to scaling the program across Canada through a train-the-trainer approach.

O’Neil’s research now looks at the reach, adoption, and implementation of Marche vers le futur to see what makes implementation successful, sustainable, and equitable in practice.

“We’ve implemented the program at eight different sites across Canada, and we’re excited that six of those sites have continued to run this on their own,” said O’Neil. “It really shows how the collaboration between researchers, clinicians, and the community is invaluable to mobilize research into practice.”

The Bruyère Academic Family Health team implemented the program within the Ottawa region, remotely delivering the 12-week program for Francophone residents in Saint-Louis Residence and in-person at Élisabeth Bruyère Hospital this year. Audrey Lienhard, Registered Nurse with the Elder Care Program, has championed the program at Bruyère, and has seen the improvements to strength and balance for participants, often who are over the age of 75.

“People are motivated when they come to us, and it is often the first time participants have been able to access a program like this in French,” said Lienhard. “Our participants realize there is so much they need to change during the program, and when in person, it’s a chance for people to have an exchange with their fellow participants and see that they’re not alone. We see the positives, and they see the positives.”

The program, which began as virtual delivery to a community centre, expanded to include virtual delivery to participants’ homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to its success, the MVF research team is looking to introduce an in-person offering, and study people’s preference for access and participation from a health equity lens.

“Our current research helps show the barriers and facilitators to getting programs like these running,” said O’Neil. “Now we want to better understand why someone is inclined to participate in one way versus another. We also hope to pilot shoe insoles fitted with sensors to gather mobility data to get detailed insights into how this program is helping people over time.”

Reach, adoption, and implementation strategies of a telehealth falls prevention program: perspectives from francophone communities across Canada is currently available as a pre-print.




This research and implementation work was funded in part by the Consortium national de formation en santé (CNFS), Société Santé en français (SSF), and Health Canada.