Schaumburg-based organization helps seniors maintain independence
For the last three years, North West Housing Partnership (NWHP) has paved the way to independence for senior citizens 65 and up to "age in place" and remain in their homes.
Through the CAPABLE (Community Aging in Place, Advancing Better Living for Elders) program, barriers that would otherwise prevent seniors from living independently are addressed through coordinated visits from an occupational therapist (OT), a registered nurse (RN) and a handyperson.
The vital importance of this program was amplified over the last year through the pandemic. It enabled seniors to remain in a safer home environment away from rampant COVID-19 exposures, which were widely publicized in group or assisted living facilities. Additionally, emergency room visits, and hospital stays either decreased or were eliminated entirely - keeping this vulnerable population safely away from healthcare facilities where in some, COVID-19 cases were skyrocketing.
Modeled after a program developed at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, the CAPABLE program is the first of its kind to be offered in the Chicago area, serving seniors in several Northwest suburban communities.
"North West Housing Partnership is proud to be a pioneer in Illinois by managing this truly impactful program for our senior population," said NWHP Executive Director Robyn Sandys. "We are grateful to the Retirement Research Foundation for supporting this program that centers on helping seniors to live safely and comfortably in their own homes."
The CAPABLE program is offered to seniors who are cognitively intact but need to overcome barriers to daily living activities. Over a four-month period, coordinated, in-home visits and services are provided by the OT, RN and the handyperson. OTs help clients navigate challenges with dressing, cooking or using the restroom, and conduct home safety assessments. Fall prevention is also an important element of this work. RNs review medications, screen for conflicts or adverse side effects, evaluate pain management, and interface with physicians, as needed. Handypersons address and attend to safety needs around the home that support independence - such as the installation of grab bars, door handles or handrails, and carpet repairs.
Susan Altchul, a 75-year-old Mount Prospect resident, and client in the CAPABLE program expressed to her OT, "I am so grateful for the program, especially during this time of crisis. It has helped to give me the freedom to move safely around my house, the ability to shower by myself again, and put on a little lipstick and feel good because of the skills and equipment provided to me. This program is a true lifesaver!"
The program's overarching goal is to lay a foundation in which seniors can remain safe, healthy and in the communities they love - oftentimes, close to family and friends. Currently, the CAPABLE program is available to seniors who reside in Palatine, Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect, Buffalo Grove, Rolling Meadows, Wheeling and Des Plaines, as well as other Northwest suburbs located within Wheeling and Palatine townships. NWHP is hopeful that new funding opportunities will allow for the expansion of this program in other Cook County suburbs to help more seniors age in place.
To apply for the CAPABLE program, seniors or their caregivers should contact NWHP by calling (847) 969-0561 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.