Breaking Ground is increasingly housing older adults: the senior population (62 and older) within Breaking Ground’s permanent supportive residences has grown to represent nearly 27% of our total resident population. The most significant contributing factor is the “aging in place” of existing tenants.
Breaking Ground along our primary onsite social service partner at supportive sites, Center for Urban and Community Services (CUCS) began planning for an aging tenancy by jointly piloting the ECHO (Elder Care Health Outreach) initiative in 2013. Its goal – to determine whether a specific adaptation to the supportive housing model could better promote its fundamental purpose of sustaining long-term stability for residents in their senior years.
The ECHO pilot was not only intended to improve the health outcomes of these older adults and to enable their ability to live independently in supportive housing for as long as possible, but also to avoid public costs of caring for the same individuals by nursing homes, hospitals, and other forms of institutional care. ECHO concluded its trial period in July 2015, findings from which are summarized in a June 2016 report “From surviving the streets to aging in place: Reducing barriers to effective health care in supportive housing for formerly homeless seniors.”
Today, ECHO is a permanent Breaking Ground program. Its services include:
Coordinated Health Care (On-Site Health Team)
- Geriatric care management to help residents develop care plans, coordinate medical/ mental health services, adhere to medication regimens, and schedule home health services.
- General health and disease-specific management education and nutrition counseling to teach residents how to effectively prevent or delay the onset of common age-related conditions and to properly manage conditions already evident, including how certain older individuals should correctly use their medication regimens (time of day, frequency, with or without meals, refrigerate or not, etc.).
Elder Support Programming (Tenant Services)
- Health promotion programming such as exercise and fitness initiatives, home injury/falls prevention services, cooking and nutrition classes.
- Ongoing recreational opportunities to increase social interaction and decrease isolation.
- In-home and telephone reassurance for tenants who are homebound and/or living with dementia.
- Specialized programming to assist the frail and elderly to remain as independent as possible.
- End of life assistance, such to help arrange for a move to institutionalized care or possibly to arrange for in-home hospice care.
Check out a story from the early ECHO pilot period in Atlantic Cities here.