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Retirement Home for Homeless Seniors

By Daniel @ LivingSenior - September 13, 2013

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The Domenech is a location that was chosen for a ground breaking pilot program called Elder Care Health Outreach. Those who are tenants are able to receive on site medical care from a nurse practitioner and doctor who will make regular visits to a clinical office in the building. The individuals are also able to get counseling, advice on nutrition and exercise, support for taking their medication, and case management to help them deal with the complex issues that they may be facing in their personal lives. The goal of the program is to provide better care to a population of people at risk -- a population that is greatly reflected by seniors who were homeless.

The Domenech is a 72 unit complex operated by Common Ground, which is a nonprofit that is dedicated to providing affordable and supportive housing for homeless and those who are at risk of becoming homeless. All of the residents at the building are seniors. 40 percent of them had been living on the street for many years before they moved into the complex and found their new home. A large amount of them have substance abuse and mental health issues that have qualified them for placement in this form of housing.

Everyone develops some form of healthcare needs as they continue to age. However, for those who are homeless, especially the elderly, it can be very difficult. The problems that they experience can be more acute because they have spent years without receiving any form of treatment. Some people were able to get treatment previously, but weren’t able to go to a doctor on a regular basis, so it made their condition worse. By 2017, it is estimated that one third of Common Ground’s agency residents will be over the age of 62. Many of them have heart disease, diabetes, and other serious conditions that can be treated and handled with suitable medical care and changes to their lifestyle. However, the reality is that these are elements that are often out of reach for those who are homeless. This is why programs like ECHO and the Domenech are so important.

The results of the program have been very beneficial so far. There have been seniors who have been trying to get to a doctor for months without any luck; the use of the program ensures that they are now able to go to a doctor that is located directly downstairs when they are at the complex. One of the common issues is that a significant amount of homeless people are also mentally ill; often times, they are ignored and given low quality care in the healthcare system because of the stigma associated with them. As a result, programs like ECHO ensure that homeless seniors who may be mentally ill or dealing with substance abuse issues can get the help and medical attention that they need instead of being ignored. The hope is that the impact will carry on throughout the other communities in the country and that similar programs may offer the same.