When it comes to the issue of housing for low- and moderate-income older adults, the central issue is ensuring that they have housing that is both affordable and adequate to their needs. Organizations involved in helping provide such housing are increasingly recognizing that “adequate” doesn’t just mean a home in good repair. It means a community setting that provides a range of services — most notably, healthcare — right at the doorstep.
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In its mission to help struggling 50+ homeowners, AARP Foundation has been working to support programs that approach the issue of adequate housing more holistically. To that end, the Foundation has supported LeadingAge — a membership organization consisting of 6,000 nonprofit organizations representing the entire field of aging services — in the development and dissemination of a Housing Plus Services guide. The goal of that guide is to create effective partnerships between housing and healthcare providers that can lead to the development of practical strategies to serve the healthcare needs of older adults where they live. The guide will include downloadable information, as well as a website featuring such tools as multimedia presentations, customizable templates and PowerPoint presentations aimed at facilitating partnership development and implementation.
The guide will be based on the best practices of the Housing Plus Services Learning Collaborative, a group of 12 affordable-housing providers and their health and social service partners. These providers have either implemented or are in the process of developing and deploying strategies to help meet the health and social service needs of elderly and younger disabled residents and support them to age successfully in their homes and communities.
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Collaborations between housing and health providers link residents of affordable senior housing properties with health and other supportive services. There’s already a track record of this approach helping to improve residents’ health, increase their ability to live independently, and reduce their use of high-cost healthcare services.
But it’s only been tried on a relatively small scale, and most housing and healthcare providers have limited experience working together. The Housing Plus Services guide that AARP Foundation supports will explain the rationale for and the benefits of collaboration between housing and healthcare providers. In addition, the guide will provide information and practical advice to help these providers understand the different ways in which they can work together; identify and overcome potential challenges and barriers that might stand in the way of effective partnerships; and offer strategies for structuring partnerships that can be sustained over time.
The Housing Plus Services guide will be available in the fall of 2014.