Blended services and technology signal ‘future of seniors housing’

Aged services will need to collaborate with housing providers and technology innovators to create the accommodation desired by seniors, the head of a major US service provider will tell Australian organisations.

Aged services will need to collaborate with housing providers and technology innovators to create the accommodation desired by seniors, the head of a major US service provider will tell Australian organisations.

The co-location of accommodation and services, blended social care with traditional healthcare, and the use of technology to combat the detrimental effects of isolation, which so often impact older people.

These are among the three key trends that will shape housing for seniors into the future, according to Stuart Kaplan, the CEO of Selfhelp Community Services, a leading provider of health and home care for seniors and North America’s largest provider of services to Holocaust survivors.

Stuart Kaplan
Stuart Kaplan

Mr Kaplan will tell the forthcoming ACSA/IAHSA Joint International Conference in Perth that while the traditional mantra in housing had been “location, location, location,” it was increasingly becoming “services, services, services”, particularly where seniors were concerned.

“What we will see is the merging of housing with healthcare services that enable us to age better and more healthfully at home, while coordinating efficiencies in care, particularly for people experiencing two or more chronic conditions,” he said.

“A person’s health status won’t be predicted merely by their genes, or what the test results reveal during a single physician visit, but we will see more of an emphasis on the social determinants of health.”

To that end, overall health and wellbeing would be greatly influenced by assistive services in housing – if and when needed. This would necessitate greater coordination and partnerships between the affordable housing sponsors, healthcare provides, and technology innovators, he said.

Described as an “ardent advocate for seniors housing”, Mr Kaplan has served on the board of LeadingAge New York and is a former president of the state-wide Housing Cabinet.

His organisation Selfhelp currently oversees nine affordable residential complexes, seven Nazi Victim Services programs, five senior centers and four Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs).

An integrated approach

Discussing examples of collaboration, Mr Kaplan pointed to Selfhelp’s acclaimed Virtual Senior Center (VSC) which developed out of a collaboration between Selfhelp, Microsoft, and New York City’s Department for the Aging. It provided seniors with interactive classes taught by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, yoga instructors, members of the New York Philharmonic, chefs and more. In the recent years it had grown to offer service to seniors in New York, Baltimore, Chicago and San Diego.

“Overall our integrated approach promotes better health status for the individual,” said Mr Kaplan. “But it also promotes better efficiencies and control of healthcare services rendered. We are seeing significant positive results in the area of care coordination, particularly for clients with two or more chronic ailments and in lowering the 30-day hospital readmission rate.

“In some experiences our Care Transitions program has been able to achieve a readmission rate that is 30 per cent lower than the national average. And that is a win-win-win for the individual, the hospital and the insurer.”

Mr Kaplan said these were challenging but exciting times for the future of housing. “It requires evidence-based innovations, clear blueprints for collaborations with high-quality partners and a firm commitment to the dignity and independence of each senior we serve,” he added.

The ACSA/IAHSA Ioint International Conference takes place from 31 August to 4 September at Perth Convention & Exhibition Centre.

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