Rebuilding Together and Aging in Place- FOCUS!

by Louis on June 9, 2010

My association with Rebuilding Together (RT) goes back many years. I was a volunteer and then a house captain with the DC affiliate. Then in about 1997 I was hired by the national office in conjunction with a grant from the US Administration on Aging to develop a course about Aging in Place and home modifications. I toured about fifteen cities delivering the course to regional and local leaders.

The program was significant for RT and for me. I got a taste of preparing and delivering information. I still love doing that. Sometimes I think it is my best talent. It was also the start of RT’s continuing focus and impressive results in making homes safe for Aging in Place. Their mission statement reflects just that- “A safe and healthy home for every person.” Nice, simple and clear. No one can disagree with the goal….or the need.

I did a new presentation for RT this weekend at a regional leaders meeting in Chicago. It was a great group of volunteer board members and staff from the midwest. They were attentive, interested and appreciative. The program was an intro to RT’s Safe at Home initiative. Topics included falls prevention, fire safety, home modifications and evidence based programming.

RT is no longer a mom and pop operation…this is a focused and sophisticated organization getting things done while increasing awareness about basic and critically important issues. I really like the getting things done part. There is too much making aware with no tangible results. Not so with RT!

RT has it down to the critical issues- falls and fire safety. These two cover most of the cost and most of the misery and most of the forced moves. Smart to make that the focus of interventions. I found two points thinking from this vantage point as I prepared:
1. the simple and inexpensive solutions can have so much impact
2. the overlap among these and other basic home mods makes ‘what to do’ fairly clear and succinct.

That raises the question. Why not do this for every home in America? Why limit this great service to a limited number of low income people reached by Rebuilding Together, an organization constantly struggling as all do-good non-profits do, to get the money to carry out their great programming? Why not make it a national program using stimulus money, incentives and the will of the people to save misery and medical costs? The beneficiaries are the folks who have national health coverage through medicare and medicaid, so WE save the money. This is a no brainer. Rebuilding Together is a leader.

The initiative to focus on evidence based results may be part of the answer to the question. They have historically measured their results in the number of homes served and the number of volunteers involved. They also attempt to gather dollar amounts for doing the same work in profitmaking contractor terms. Now they will be moving to costs saved by the interventions. This may be the necessary step to awaken the policy folks. I sure hope so.

In the meantime I am proud and happy to revive my association with this great organization and all the people who make it so!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Marc June 10, 2010 at 11:36 am

Very good post, Louis.

I wonder: What are the simple and inexpensive modifications that will help prevent falls? Banisters along the stairs, I suppose. Are there others?


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