CHP: Supportive Housing Pilot Cuts ER Use by 72% for Formerly Homeless Seniors

Supportive Housing Pilot Slashes ED Use

Crain’s Health Pulse June 3, 2016

A supportive-housing nonprofit found that when elderly residents have care plans that are tailored to their specific health needs, the number of days these patients spent in the emergency department was cut by 72%.

Breaking Ground, which describes itself as the city's largest provider of supportive housing, conducted a two-year pilot program that followed 41 residents, age 62 or older, who received regular visits from providers. They also participated in wellness activities such as trips to farmers' markets to promote healthy eating and diabetes management workshops.

Breaking Ground has 3,530 supportive housing units at 19 properties. Health care services were delivered by Janian Medical Care, the health care arm of the Manhattan nonprofit Center for Urban Community Services, a housing and social services nonprofit. The 41 residents lived spent 109 days in the ED or hospital in 2012. But by 2015, they spent only 31 days in those settings, which Breaking Ground estimates saved taxpayers $177,000.

Breaking Ground believes sharing the lessons it learned, compiled in areport published Thursday, could help more people stay at home rather than receive services in a skilled-nursing facility. The initiative, called the Elder Care Health Outreach program, was funded through $560,000 in contributions from five foundations. One doctor from Janian saw patients one day a week, with two nurse practitioners working half-time to oversee the program. Another full-time staff member supervised the wellness portion of the initiative.

Beyond the 41 targeted patients, another155 adults received medical services and 357 accessed such tenant services as instructions on preventing injuries and falls that can often land older adults in the emergency department or hospital. The pilot cost less than $2,000 a person, a figure low enough to demonstrate to its usefulness as a cost-effective care model.