The home environment plays a critical role in adults' ability to stay in their homes and communities as they age, commonly referred to as aging in place. Yet the majority of older adults' homes lack supportive features. Home modification is the process of making changes to a home to increase independence, safety, and health. Often combined with related repairs, home modification and repair (HMR) can be minor, such as adding grab bars and removing tripping hazards, or major, such as installing roll-in showers and ramps. Although HMRs can support people as their needs change and even preclude moves to institutional settings, numerous barriers challenge the ability of older adults and caregivers to access them.
In response, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) funded the University of Southern California (USC) Leonard Davis School of Gerontology to implement the project, "Promoting Aging in Place by Enhancing Access to Home Modifications." Its goal is to address the barriers to home modification access and service delivery by increasing the availability and awareness of home modification at the national, state, and local levels. A key activity of this project was to develop a knowledge base of state HMR activities and programs for older adults and persons with disabilities with a focus on the State Units on Aging (SUAs). These agencies develop and implement state plans and support services for older persons, adults with physical disabilities and their families. SUAs administer funds, including those provided through the Older Americans Act (OAA), to support HMR services through local Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and other state and local entities (e.g., OAA Title VI organizations that serve older Native Americans). SUAs can play a significant role in HMR by including it in state plans, providing designated funding, raising awareness, and coordinating with other state agencies such as housing, disability, and health.
In October 2019, USC and its ACL project partner ADvancing States administered an online survey of directors of the 56 SUAs (which ADvancing States represents). The 10-question closed and open-ended survey sought to ascertain SUA activities, challenges, and opportunities in HMR. With extensive follow-up through February 2020, 50 SUAs completed the survey (an 89% response rate).This report summarizes the survey results, giving a bird's eye view of SUA roles in HMR and shining a light on examples of SUA HMR activities. Its purpose is to encourage greater involvement and coordination in HMR service delivery among agencies with a stake in assuring older Americans' ability to age in place.
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Tags: Older Americans Act, Area Agencies on Aging, State Units on Aging, Home-and Community-Based Services