The Dual Agenda, the bi-weekly newsletter of our Voices for Better Health project, periodically features “Eldercare Voices” guest columns, sharing contributions from providers or researchers directly involved in improving care delivery to older adults. This week’s column, Affordable Senior Housing and Services: A Coordinated Approach to Serving Vulnerable Older Adults, is from Robyn I. Stone, Ph.D., Executive Director of the LeadingAge Center for Applied Research and Senior Vice President of Research at LeadingAge. Dr. Stone shares exciting progress being made in forging partnerships between senior housing facilities and health organizations, with significant implications for health system transformation efforts. We know that where one lives plays a large role in health, both in access to services and in a variety of upstream social determinants of health. The cutting edge work described in this piece highlights the opportunities to deliver coordinated care and services, with a meaningful role played by service coordinators in affordable senior housing facilities, helping foster good health while promoting health equity through culturally competent relationships with residents.

Affordable Senior Housing and Services: A Coordinated Approach to Serving Vulnerable Older Adults

Guest contributor Robyn I. Stone, Ph.D.   
Executive Director, LeadingAge Center for Applied Research

An estimated two million older adults currently live in publicly subsidized housing properties located in urban, suburban and rural communities nationwide. Findings from a recent federally-funded study of affordable senior housing properties in 12 jurisdictions across the country, conducted by researchers at the LeadingAge Center for Applied Research (CFAR) and the Lewin Group, indicate that elderly residents of low-income housing properties have more chronic conditions, take more medications, are more functionally disabled and have higher emergency department (ED) and hospital visits than their peers living in the community. Approximately 70 percent of these elderly residents are dually eligible Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, underscoring their high-risk status and suggesting that publicly subsidized housing may serve as a locus for better management and coordination of services for vulnerable older adults.

Multiple efforts are underway at the federal and state levels, and in the private sector, to reform our health and long-term care delivery systems to better address the country’s care needs, particularly among vulnerable populations. These efforts focus on lowering Medicare and Medicaid expenditures by providing timely preventive care; improving care coordination and service integration; reducing over-utilization; and providing overall population health management at the community level.

The current reform climate, focused on transformation of our health care system, provides a unique opportunity for senior housing/health care organization partnerships to achieve common goals. Since residents of affordable senior housing communities are an ideal demographic for implementing population-based health reforms, they present especially conducive opportunities for the forging of such partnerships.

Continue reading this edition of Elder Care Voices here.