Hebrew SeniorLife Pilots Program to Rethink Affordable Housing for Seniors

Fifty years after the launch of the senior housing movement, R3 Project aims to create new national model

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BOSTON — Harvard Medical School- affiliated Hebrew SeniorLife (HSL), a nonprofit organization committed to improving the lives of older adults, announced today the launch of a pilot program for seniors in affordable housing to improve quality of life and reduce medical costs. This effort is the latest step in a 50-year history of innovation in senior housing for HSL, including pioneering the concept of housing with supportive services for elders. The Right Care, Right Place, Right Time: Effectively Integrating Senior Care and Housing initiative (R3 Project) is funded by a $421,742 grant from the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission through the Health Care Innovation Investment (HCII) Program.

In 1965, HSL’s Dr. Sylvia Sherwood and her team conducted a study that indicated congregate housing with services could enrich the lives of the elderly and disabled, preventing or delaying permanent institutional placement. Their study was the first to empirically demonstrate that vulnerable older adults could remain independent and thrive in a supportive community setting. The study sparked the development of what are now known as independent supportive senior housing and continuing care retirement communities.

The R3 Project aims to combat a more specific elder issue: reducing transfers of seniors from home to hospitals, emergency rooms, and long-term care. Many seniors who live in affordable housing endure unnecessary transfers for health issues that could be prevented with focused efforts up front. The project will be piloted at two HSL locations.

By creating an effective partnership between housing and healthcare and reducing these unnecessary transfers, the R3 Project could generate cost savings of approximately $1,800 per beneficiary per year and significantly improve the health and quality of life for seniors. The pilot also will measure increased utilization of wellness programs, linkages to mental health services, and life satisfaction.

“The R3 Project is a major step forward in HSL’s mission to improve the lives of all seniors, and a natural next step to build on our legacy in elder housing,” said Lou Woolf, President and CEO of HSL. “This pilot, and our ongoing analysis as we measure its performance, will not only benefit seniors in our communities today, but provide insight that should change the way the entire country approaches affordable housing for seniors.”

“The R3 Project will have a tremendous impact on our residents and their families, but its ultimate reach will be so much broader,” said Kim Brooks, Vice President of Senior Living at HSL. “Our vision is to create a replicable, scalable, and sustainable model of housing with supportive services to enable seniors to live independently as long as possible, receiving the right care in the right place at the right time, while reducing health care costs for this growing population.”

The Massachusetts Health Policy Commission (HPC) is an independent state agency that develops policy to reduce health care cost growth and improve the quality of patient care. The HPC's mission is to advance a more transparent, accountable, and innovative health care system through its independent policy leadership and investment programs. Its goal is better health and better care at a lower cost across the Commonwealth.

“The Health Policy Commission is excited to fund Hebrew SeniorLife in its proposal focused on the connection between housing and health care for older adults. This award will assist Hebrew SeniorLife in its innovative approach to bringing health care and self-care into the home through embedded coordinated care teams,” said David Seltz, Health Policy Commission Executive Director. “The Health Policy Commission offers its sincere congratulations to Hebrew SeniorLife for an outstanding proposal and we look forward to our work together.”

About Hebrew SeniorLife

Hebrew SeniorLife, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, is a national senior services leader uniquely dedicated to rethinking, researching and redefining the possibilities of aging. Based in Boston, the non-profit, non-sectarian organization has provided communities and health care for seniors, research into aging, and education for geriatric care providers since 1903. For more information about Hebrew SeniorLife, visit https://www.hebrewseniorlife.org, follow us on Twitter @H_SeniorLife, like us on Facebook or read our blog.