Hospital Admissions Reduced by Nearly One-Fifth When On-Site Service Coordinator Helps Seniors Stay Healthy

New Study Has Implications For Controlling Federal, State Health
Care Spending, And Shows How Housing Matters For Seniors’ Health Care

ORLANDO, Fla. & WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A new study of nearly 9,000 adults by LeadingAge and The Lewin Group
released today at the Gerontological Society of America Annual
Scientific meeting finds that the availability of an on-site service
coordinator (such as a social worker) at federally subsidized senior
housing reduced hospital admissions among residents by 18 percent.

Service coordinators connect residents of affordable senior housing with
community-based resources and services, such as transportation,
nutrition counseling and wellness programs designed to help them remain
healthy and independent. Approximately 40% of subsidized senior housing
properties have on-site service coordinators.

“Today’s study highlights the critical role of senior housing as a
platform for health and other services that can reduce health care
utilization and potentially improve health outcomes and reduce Medicare
spending for senior residents,” said Alisha Sanders, Senior Policy
Research Associate, LeadingAge Center for Applied Research, who
presented the research at today’s conference. “The size of the senior
housing population, and the health challenges that these residents face,
suggest that substantial health care savings could be realized if more
housing properties had service coordinators working on site.”

The study of 8,706 seniors in 507 properties in 12 communities around
the country focused on health care utilization among lower-income
seniors, a particularly vulnerable group that utilizes health care
services at higher than average levels. The average age of seniors
living in these communities was 80 years old, with 56% eligible for both
Medicaid and Medicare. Half of these older adults had five or more
chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, or
cancer. Having multiple chronic conditions is associated with higher
health care utilization and spending.

Today’s findings are supported by a recent location-based
by LeadingAge showing that a statewide senior housing-based
service coordination program is slowing the growth of Medicare spending
in Vermont. Combined, the studies support the insight that having a
service coordinator on-site where vulnerable seniors live is an
effective, economical means of reducing expensive health care
interactions and events.

The study, funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
as part of its How Housing Matters initiative, focused on the most
vulnerable older residents of federally assisted housing properties
previously identified in a 2014
supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
(HHS) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
LeadingAge/Lewin examined key health care utilization data and compared
it to availability of on site services at these same locations.

“At a time when the population as a whole is getting grayer and
policymakers are under increasing pressure to rein in health care costs,
federal and state agencies, as well as health care providers, should
consider partnering with federally subsidized senior housing properties
to coordinate services,” said Sanders. “Today’s study indicates that
such coordination and collaboration can save Medicare dollars for
millions of low-income elderly residents.”

About LeadingAge

The mission of LeadingAge is to expand the world of possibilities for
aging. Our 6,000+ members and partners include not-for-profit
organizations representing the entire field of aging services, 39 state
partners, hundreds of businesses, consumer groups, foundations and
research partners. LeadingAge is also a part of the International
Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, whose membership spans
30 countries. LeadingAge is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable
organization focused on education, advocacy and applied research.


Amanda Marr, 202-508-1219
Chang, 202-295-8779