Common Ground is increasingly housing older adults. In the last five years alone, the senior population within our permanent supportive residences has grown by 28%. This is in part due to the addition of new buildings to our portfolio, but mostly to the aging in place of our pre-existing tenants. At the four permanent housing sites Common Ground opened prior to 2005, the number of residents over 62 years of age has increased by 17%, and now represents nearly 20% of our total resident population. By 2015, Common Ground conservatively estimates that this cohort will grow by another 67%.
In order to meet the needs of older tenants – in particular, to ensure they are able to maintain mobility, independence, and social connectedness – Common Ground and social service partner Center for Urban and Community Services (CUCS) are jointly creating a new program, the ECHO (Elder Care Health Outreach) initiative. ECHO is aimed at improving the health outcomes of our older residents, enabling them to maintain their housing and live independently for as long as possible, and consequently reducing public costs of caring for these individuals in nursing homes, hospitals, and other forms of institutional care.
Services coordinated by the ECHO initiative 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.