Members of a newly formed Housing Plus Services Learning Collaborative gathered for the first time at the 2012 LeadingAge Annual Meeting in Denver. LeadingAge and Enterprise Community Partners are piloting the Collaborative, which includes 12 teams of nonprofit affordable housing and service provider partners.

Over the next 2 years, the Collaborative’ s community teams will support each other as they develop strategies to coordinate and deliver health and supportive services to older adults living in affordable independent senior housing communities. Members will also work together to:

  • Identify the essential elements and practices of promising Housing Plus Services strategies.
  • Develop indicators and mechanisms to measure whether these models can improve health outcomes for seniors while creating cost savings for the health care system. 
  • Explore how regulatory and financing changes could help bring these models to scale so they can serve the large and rapidly growing population of older Americans.

“We would like Collaborative members to take on a very tangible set of activities that gets into implementation and operational details,” says Alisha Sanders, managing director of the LeadingAge Center for Housing Plus Services and senior policy research associate at the LeadingAge Center for Applied Research. “Every team will be working on Housing Plus Services initiatives in its own community. But, together, we will also be identifying common elements and functions of these initiatives that could be relevant to a range of models and housing providers.”

12 Housing Plus Services Learning Collaborative Teams

Twelve community teams are participating in the Housing Plus Services Learning Collaborative. They include:

Housing Plus Services Collaborative Members: Learning and Sharing

Community teams participating in the Housing Plus Services Learning Collaborative will build their knowledge and capacity through peer-to-peer learning opportunities that include in-person meetings, conference calls, webinars and other virtual activities.

“A lot of the learning is going to come from group members sharing their experience and their knowledge,” says Sanders. “One community team might have a lot of experience conducting assessments of residents. Another team may have some strong experience in developing partnerships.”

In addition to holding formal meetings, members will use a virtual web-based “cloud” platform to share ideas, documents and resources. Members might also take part in smaller work groups that explore specific topics.

“We hope the work of the Collaborative will complement what members are already doing back in their communities,” says Sanders. “But we also want to be able to pull collective knowledge from all of them to build tools and materials that we can share with the broader field.”

For More Information

For information about the Housing Plus Services Learning Collaborative, contact Alisha Sanders or Cheryl Gladstone, program director for senior housing at Enterprise Community Partners.

Researchers from the LeadingAge Center for Applied Research will spend 8 days this fall visiting 6 European nursing homes and assisted living communities that have taken steps to improve the dining experiences of residents with dementia. 

Sodexo Institute for Quality of Daily Life, a sponsor of the International Association of Homes and Services for the Ageing (IAHSA), is funding the project.

The research on dining practices for residents with dementia will yield a collection of best practices that LeadingAge and IAHSA members could adapt to their own organizations.  

Dining Practices: Site Visit Goals

LeadingAge researchers will visit facilities in Belgium, Italy and France. During each site visit, they will document how each organization implemented its dining program for residents with dementia. 

Researchers plan to conduct interviews with administrators, nursing and dietary staff, as well as residents’ family members. In addition, they will observe:

  • The dining experience of residents.
  • The design of the dining environment. This includes the dining room’s layout, acoustics, table settings, sensory stimulation and lighting.
  • The role that staff play during dining, including the amount of assistance staff members provide to residents and the extent to which they encourage residents to function independently. 
  • How the organization trains dietary and nursing staff to feed and assist residents and to deal with behavioral issues during meals. 
  • The role of nutrition in creating a positive dining experience.

Dissemination of Dining Practices Case Studies

The best practices that researchers identify will be included in a case study collection that IAHSA and the Center for Applied Research will release in Spring 2013.

The collection will detail each organization’s dining program for residents with dementia. It will also highlight themes and trends that are common to all the participating organizations.

LeadingAge and IAHSA will disseminate the case studies through their respective websites. In addition, findings will be shared at the 2013 IAHSA International conference in Shanghai. 

For more information about the study of dining practices for residents with dementia, contact Natasha Bryant, (202) 508-1214.

Sodexo Institute for Quality of Daily Life

"We strongly believe that the Institute for Improving Quality of Life contributes to the progress of individuals and to the performance of organizations," Michael Landel, chief executive officer of Soxdexo. 

The Institute for Quality of Daily Life is dedicated to the capture and exchange of knowledge, and experience, related to the improvement of quality of daily life. The aim of the Institute is to qualify, quantify, and measure, wherever possible, how services provided by Sodexo improve quality of daily life and consequently positively impacts the progress of individuals and the performance of organizations. 

 The Personal and Home Care Aide State Training Program (PHCAST) is a 3-year federal demonstration program designed to develop core competencies, pilot training curricula and establish certification programs for personal and home care aides (PHCAs). LeadingAge Center for Applied Research is partnering with Walter R. McDonald & Associates, LLC to evaluate PHCAST teaching methods and to ascertain the impact of core competencies training on key outcomes.

Some issues are just too big for one organization, or even one nation, to address adequately. The aging of the world’s population is one of those issues.

I’m convinced that we won’t be able to overcome the challenges associated with global aging – or take full advantage of the opportunities – without help from many experts working in a variety of disciplines. That’s why a recent international conference, which I attended at the Rockefeller Foundation’s prestigious Bellagio Center in northern Italy, was so important.

About 25 economists, sociologists, physicians, city planners, aging and public health experts, engineers and transportation researchers came to Italy for the small meeting. These experts hailed from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, China, Thailand, Greece and Russia. Staff came from major international health organizations, including the World Health Organization and HelpAge International. Corporations like Pfizer and Bayer were also on hand.

Housing Plus Services and Livable Communities

During my conference presentation on global aging issues, I offered the “Housing Plus Services” model as a strategy for supporting the world’s aging population.

The LeadingAge Center for Applied Research has been studying this model for many years. We believe that affordable senior housing communities – both publicly subsidized and market rate – can serve as a valuable platform for the delivery of the long-term services and supports that older adults need to age in place.

The Housing Plus Services concept tied in beautifully with the conference’s focus on “livable communities.” We spent 4 days in intensive discussions about how a community’s infrastructure, economic and social features could be designed to help older people remain healthy, independent and engaged. We shared our knowledge and vision from our various professional and subject area perspectives. We also brainstormed about ways to encourage the developed and developing nations of the world to create livable communities that would embrace and support their rapidly aging populations.

Learning from Others around the World 

I learned 3 important lessons during the meeting:

  • Solutions are within reach. It was reassuring to discover that transportation experts from around the world are exploring new ways to keep older people active, engaged and connected after they can no longer drive. Some of the potential solutions – including the use of tax credits to fund age-friendly transit systems – have real potential to change lives.
  • Economic challenges breed innovative strategies. It was fascinating to learn how the economically challenged countries of western Europe are pioneering community-based approaches to support their retirees. 
  • Success depends on interdisciplinary approaches. The value of the conference became clear to me when a neurologist educated us about pathological and normal aging. He then helped us explore how a better understanding of these aging processes can inform more appropriate policy decisions. Interdisciplinary discussions like this are so important. They do not take place often enough.

Benefits for LeadingAge Members

I came away from Bellagio with an expanded network of colleagues from a variety of countries. LeadingAge, the Center for Applied Research and the International Association of Homes and Services for the Ageing will continue collaborating with these experts to move our work forward.

I also came home with a renewed appreciation for how livable communities could help providers of aging services better support the older adults who live within and outside their care settings. LeadingAge members will be hearing more from us about these communities and how we can work together to create and sustain them.


LeadingAge Center for Applied Research will be conducting a study to determine the cost effectiveness of a palliative training program for residents with advanced dementia. The palliative care training program was developed by Beatitudes Campus in Arizona. Beatitudes will work with the New York City Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association to adapt and implement the program in three New York nursing homes.


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