Partnership with Saint Kate’s Improves our Accessibility Services

We are extremely proud of our partnership with Saint Catherine University’s graduate Occupational Therapy program and Associate Professor Catherine Sullivan.

Through this partnership, we collaborate on service-learning projects that involve graduate occupational therapy (OT) students evaluating the homes of low-income older adults for safety and making recommendations for modifications designed to reduce the risk of falls and other injuries. Our volunteers and/or contractors then make the modifications that are within the scope of our programs. St. Kate’s OT students have completed more than 150 occupational therapy assessments for homeowners in need through this partnership over the last five years.

With the support of the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), we expanded this partnership in 2014 and 2015 to implement more sophisticated assessment tools and conduct an outcome study, which resulted in the publication of a thesis.  This study shows how in-home environmental modifications can have a statistically significant impact on improving the mobility of older adults throughout his or her community and within the home, reducing the fear of falling, and increasing the satisfaction and level of performance in completing home occupational tasks.

Our collaboration with Professor Sullivan and her students has enabled Rebuilding Together Twin Cities to provide accessibility modifications for low-income seniors that are tailored specifically to their individual needs and home environment.  As a result, we are able to better-serve older adults, allowing them to remain in their homes and neighborhoods for longer.  This partnership has served as a catalyst for us to expand our accessibility modification programs to include larger modifications that facilitate single-level living and aging-in-place.  It has also fundamentally changed how we evaluate our accessibility programs.  We have moved far beyond traditional homeowner satisfaction surveys to a more robust, quantitative pre- and post-project assessment process that can provide statistical data showing the impact of our work.  Professor Sullivan and her students have been an important resource in our efforts to help older adults age-in-place successfully and this collaboration has elevated the level of understanding of this work among our staff, Board members, volunteers, and supporters.

We are grateful to Professor Sullivan and her students and look forward to continuing this partnership!

St. Kate’s Graduate Student Publishes Thesis Showing Impact of Safe at Home Program

We are extremely proud of our long-standing partnership with the Saint Catherine University’s graduate Occupational Therapy program.  This partnership focuses on providing safety and accessibility modifications for low-income homeowners who are older adults or individuals living with a disability, so they can live more safely and independently in their own homes.  Through this partnership, we expanded our evaluation of our Accessibility programs last year and found that our home modification interventions resulted in measurable improvements to the quality of life, safety, independence and overall well-being of both the senior homeowner and their caregivers.  This pilot assessment focused on 15 low-income senior homeowners and used both quantitative and qualitative (primarily interview) tools.

According to the study’s author, Melody Oaks, statistical analysis showed significant improvements in occupational participation in valued daily activities, decreased fear of falling and a decrease in the risk of long-term care placement.  She states, “The positive findings suggest that home modifications involving occupational therapists can improve occupational participation and safety for low-income older adult homeowners. Qualitative results revealed themes of increased independence and accessibility, improved community relationships and occupational activities, and increased hope to remain aging in place.”  She also notes that the home modifications relieved the burden and stress of caregivers.  Bernice, one of the clients in the study who received a ramp, said “I just hop in the wheelchair and buzz down the ramp. There’s no heavy lifting for Scott. [her husband.]”

This study demonstrates the tangible and immediate positive impact on the seniors we were able to serve and their caregivers.

You can read Melody’s entire study here.

Thanks To….

St. Kate’s Occupational Therapy students – Helped with Safe at Home previews and projects throughout the month.

Volunteers who helped wrap gifts at the HGTV Holiday House – Special thanks to HGTV for providing this fantastic opportunity and to MidCountry Bank, Wells Fargo, Dunwoody College of Technology, Constance Free Church, and Coldwell Banker Burnet for helping recruit volunteers.

Journeymen Volunteers – Made safety and accessibility modifications for a St. Paul homeowner on November 17th.

Thanks To….

Honeywell Retired Volunteer Program – Rebuilt stairs for a Minneapolis homeowner on October 16th.

DCMA – Installed railings, a washer and dryer, and a stove and patched and repaired drywall and exterior flashing for a South Minneapolis homeowner on October 18th.

Rimage Corp – Made energy efficiency improvements, including installing water heater blanket, insulating pipes and weatherstripping doors and windows on October 18th.

Journeyman Volunteers – Learned how to make energy efficiency improvements on October 25th.

Fireman’s Fund Insurance – Helped organize our warehouse and made a gift for our homeowners – a green Rebuilding Together birdhouse plaque!

Young Professionals of Minneapolis – Helped a South Minneapolis homeowner in need on October 27th.

Students Today, Leaders Forever – Helped organize our warehouse and make birdhouses on November 10th.

St. Kate’s Occupational Therapy students – Helped with Safe at Home previews throughout the month.

ATK – Continued to work on the renovation project for the transitional housing shelter run by the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans on October 26th.