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Participants on the Housing Study Tour at Cathedral Square.

The IAHSA and LeadingAge Housing with Services Study Tour was inspiring, informative and interesting.  Each of the five communities we visited brought something new to the table and showed what dedication and commitment can do for senior living.  

The most important lessons we took with us are seldom taught, and less often shared.  The leaders of Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly, Hebrew Senior Life, Sanborn Place, Cathedral Square and Hearth Inc taught us the following:  

1)          You can make anything happen with volunteers.

  • Many of the services we saw including fitness, educational initiatives and caregiving were conducted not by paid staff, but by willing volunteers.  Students, retired seniors, community centers and relatives can be found all around us.  Why not utilize their talents and time to enrich your community? 

2)          Maintenance Staff are the eyes and ears of your community.

  • All of the sites we visited recognized the value of their maintenance staff, and for good reason. While it may take time for residents to warm up to nurses and staff, maintenance personnel are invited right into the home.  They are there in a time of need when something goes wrong, they have daily contact with the residents which helps them identify risk concerns and can report incidents as they occur. 

3)          If you don’t ask, you won’t receive.

  • Finding funding opportunities is an arduous task of piecing together various resources.  A large support can come from private donors, annual pledges, rotary clubs and old fashioned fundraising.  People love to make a difference, help them find a way by talking to them about it.  One donor at Hebrew Senior Life said “I wanted to give back to an organization that gave my mother so much happiness in the later years of her life.”

4)          Take risks.

  • Jacqueline Carson, CEO of Sanborn Place in Reading, Maryland, has a unique and bold approach.  As her residents age, she remains flexible to adapt her community to their evolving needs.  If something doesn’t work, she finds an alternative that does. 

5)          Intergenerational programs are essential, not optional.

  • These programs aren’t just for seniors.  Intergenerational programs strengthen communities by enhancing the lives of youth and children, spread positive thinking about ageing, encourage cultural exchange and can even maximize your financial resources through partnerships.  They can also help you with point #1.

6)          Invite your greater community in.

  • While your senior community may not be able to parade around the town, your local leaders can certainly tour your facilities and get to know their supporters – after all, seniors vote! Nancy Eldridge frequently hosts events in her buildings and identifies concerns for her local leaders to address so that they stay involved and stay committed.  Her program, SASH (Supports and Services at Home) is an exemplary framework for coordination a the community level.

Dr. Robyn Stone, a leading international authority on aging and long-term care policy, is the Senior Vice President for Research at LeadingAge where she oversees the organization’s Center for Applied Research.   Much of the Center’s work over the past decade has focused on examining the potential for linking affordable senior housing with services to support “aging in place” strategies and more efficient delivery of Medicare and Medicaid-funded services. We sat down with Dr. Stone to discuss IAHSA’s first Affordable Housing with Services Tour upcoming in September 10 – 15, 2012.

You will be hosting IAHSA’s Study Tour in Boston and Vermont – why did you decide on these locations?

Dr. Robyn Stone

Dr. Robyn Stone [Credit: LeadingAge]

The senior housing providers in these states are engaging in particularly innovative efforts to link housing with services.  They are also operating in states—Massachusetts and Vermont—that are experimenting with better ways to coordinate care for the elderly population, have a track record of paying attention to the holistic needs of their aging communities,  and  are very supportive of the role of housing in facilitating successful implementation of these programs.  Tour participants will have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of what it takes to make these programs work at both the operational and policy levels and how they might replicate such programs in their own communities.

Who will benefit the most from this tour?

Senior housing providers–both those serving low and higher income older adults—stand to benefit greatly from this tour.  Service providers who are interested in partnering with senior housing should also take advantage of this tour.  The tour is designed to help housing operators/managers and service providers better understand what is possible in designing programs that will assist low and modest income elders to age successfully in their communities, to remain functionally independent for as long as possible, to avoid expensive and inappropriate ER and hospital visits and to manage their chronic illnesses in their apartments.  This tour will particularly benefit people who are interested in maximizing their resources and developing sustainable partnerships in their communities.

What do you think the international community can gain from this and other tours?

Despite policy and regulatory differences across countries, all countries are attempting to implement aging-in-place strategies for low and modest income older adults that are cost effective and that ensure resident quality of care and quality of life.  This tour provides an opportunity to see innovative programs in action and to share experiences with other colleagues who may provide new insights into how to effectively link housing with services.

There is nothing like seeing operating programs, particularly in the fall, when the leaves are turning beautiful colors in the Northeastern region of the United States!

How can this tour help you in your efforts to deliver better housing and services to the world’s growing elderly population?

This tour will provide important new insights into how affordable senior housing can be an effective platform for integrating services that meet the holistic needs of low and modest income older adults. This includes how to develop more effective and sustainable partnerships at the community level, how to creatively use existing resources and how to attract new sources of financing which are essential to the long-term viability of these programs.

To learn more about the tour, please visit or register here.  You can read more about Dr. Stone’s and the Center’s work at .

The U.S. 65-and-older population will more than double by 2050 to nearly 90 million, growing at a rate far faster than any other age group. According to Census data, by 2050, one in five Americans will be over the age of 65.  A new report from the Center for Housing Policy, Housing an Aging Population: Are We Prepared?, explores the effects of the coming demographic change on the demand for housing, the challenge of providing meaningful housing choices for older adults of all incomes, and the policies that could help communities across the country respond to the dual challenges of providing older adults with affordable housing and adequate services.

The report finds that older adults are more likely than younger adults to have housing affordability challenges.  As a result, the aging of the population is likely to increase the overall proportion of the country with severe housing cost burdens.  The report also finds that many older adults lack access to affordable services that could help them age in place. The report further covers trends affecting older adults in terms of demand, housing costs, finances, location and housing type, offering recommendations on existing policies that may help to address the coming crisis.

Interested in learning more about affordable housing with services? Consider joining our study tour that will visit communities and providers around the Boston, Massachusetts area.

How do these challenges play out in real life? Check out this video from a Colorado county that is in the process of trying to establish a supported housing project.

Dr. Robyn Stone was one of the major speakers at the January Asian Ageing Forum in Singapore, co-sponsored by IAHSA.   As director of the Institute for the Future of Aging Services [IFAS], Robyn is instrumental in the development of multi-national applied research on ageing.

As noted in her report from the Singapore conference, it is hoped that IFAS and IAHSA can further explore expanded cross national research to benefit ageing service providers.

The Australian Government recently released The Road Home, a white paper on homelessness.

As part of their strategy, the government says it will amend the Aged Care Act 1997 to include older people who are homeless as a ‘special needs’ group.  As part of the new policy direction, the government will provide places and capital funding support for four new specialist facilities by 2012.

This is an important step as older citizens are likely to be adversely affected by the economic downturn.

The European Liaison Committee for Social Housing has issued a research brief that looks at the challenges the ageing society will place on the provision of care and housing services in Europe.

Overall in Europe, there is a shift away from institutional care towards keeping the elderly in their own homes and living independently. However this creates a number of problems, as many of the dwellings are too large and not barrier-free to be adaptable to the needs of frail older people with mobility problems and physical impairments.

And as more elderly live independently the need for home-based services will increase. Partnerships between housing providers and other services providers will be crucial.

About this blog

IAHSA’s Global Ageing Network Blog was created because of you!! We got your message loud and clear – “Provide us with a quick and nimble communications vehicle so we can stay connected and create community across borders".

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Virginia Nuessle, Study Tour Director

Majd Alwan, Director, CAST

Alla Rubinstein, Program Administrator, IAHSA

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