Housing and Health Care: Partners in Healthy Aging
For more information, please visit http://www.leadingage.org/housinghealth/
Providers of affordable senior housing want to help older adults remain healthy and independent for as long as possible. Health care entities like hospitals and physicians want the same thing.
Working together, housing and health care partners can launch initiatives that lead to improved health, safety and quality of life for low-income older adults facing multiple health and social challenges.
How do housing-health partnerships work? How can you implement them and ensure their success? Our Housing and Health Partnerships toolkit can help you answer these questions.
The following is the transcript of the video:
Meet Clara Johnson. Clara is 82 years old. She lives in an affordable senior housing community in Cleveland, Ohio.
Here’s what Clara’s primary care physician knows about her:
• She has high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
• She’s had diabetes for many years.
• She had a hip replacement a while back.
And here’s what the staff of Clara’s housing community know about her:
• Clara has to pinch pennies so her 0 social security check will last an entire month.
• Even so, her refrigerator often looks pretty bare by the time her next check arrives.
• Clara takes 8 prescription drugs every day – at least she’s supposed to. Sometimes she forgets or gets mixed up.
• Clara doesn’t always understand her doctor’s instructions. But she’s too embarrassed to tell him.
• Clara’s daughter visits her every few weeks.
Why does the staff at Clara’s housing property know more about her life than her doctor does? It’s simple mathematics.
Clara spends about 15 minutes a month talking with her doctor. The rest of the time—about 719 hours—she spends living her life. Most of that living takes place at home. And, in Clara’s home, she’s constantly interacting with people who want to help her.
• Clara often meets her friends down in the lobby of her building. Sometimes they join an activity organized by the housing property. Sometimes, they just sit and chat. Either way, when Clara’s friends don’t see her, they knock on her door.
• Clara enjoys talking with her building’s maintenance staff. She’s known them for years. And they’ve gotten really good at noticing if Clara’s not acting like her normal self.
• The housing property’s service coordinator checks in regularly to see how Clara’s doing. She’s connected Clara with Meals on Wheels and helped her find transportation to her doctor and pharmacy.
Affordable senior housing properties are filled with people like Clara – people whose health complications and social circumstances make it more likely that they will be frequent users of expensive services like hospitals and emergency rooms.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Research suggests that health outcomes are much better when health care providers collaborate with affordable senior housing providers to help vulnerable, low-income older adults manage their health.
This is true for many reasons:
• Affordable senior housing properties give physicians, hospitals and health plans the opportunity to reach many people in one location.
• Health care providers can collaborate with trusted housing staff to help monitor individuals, support them after a hospital stay, and help them access valuable services and resources.
• Health care providers can send a nurse to the housing property a few days a week. That nurse can offer one-on-one health education. She can monitor vital signs and reconcile medications. She can even help coordinate medical care.
• Housing and health staff can work together to offer fitness programs or education sessions on a variety of topics – like how to manage chronic conditions or eat a healthy diet.
• Finally, health care systems and hospitals can meet their social accountability obligations by addressing community health needs through formal partnerships with mission-driven affordable senior housing properties.
There are so many ways for housing and health care providers to work together. But there’s one bottom line.
Housing and health partnerships give us all a better way to address the health needs of low-income seniors.
And that will make America a better place to grow old.
Visit LeadingAge.org/HousingHealth to learn more.