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Cool Things

Social Support at Home Leads to Less Time in the Hospital for Seniors

Affordable housing with supportive social services can keep seniors well at home

When affordable housing is paired with supportive social services, elderly patients spend less time in the hospital. A recent study found that for Medicare patients who had access to supportive services in their residence, such as counseling and wellness programs, hospitalizations were 32% lower, ambulatory-care sensitive conditions were 30% lower, and hospital lengths of stay were one day shorter on average.

The study tracked Medicare data on hospital use for residents in six buildings operated by Selfhelp, a community-based housing program in New York City for people 65 years and older, compared with residents in other buildings in the same neighborhood. Through Selfhelp, residents have access to a range of social services that include socialization, physical activity, and educational programs to control chronic diseases. The program also gives residents lists of transportation, pharmacy, and physician services in their community, and each building includes a social work office for the residents.

Researchers concluded that linking affordable housing to supportive services might improve seniors’ ability to stay in their homes as they age and use health and social services at home instead of relying on hospital stays to access those services.

Read the full study in Health Affairs.