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The Pew Charitable Trusts Awards Grant to Support Geriatric Home Visit Program

August 30, 2012

B. Brent Simmons, MD

The Pew Charitable Trusts recently awarded Drexel University College of Medicine's Department of Family, Community and Preventive Medicine a three-year, $150,000 grant to support a home visit program for homebound, low-income seniors in Philadelphia. The newly-created program—Drexel Geriatric Home Visit Model (DGHVM)—combines comprehensive geriatric assessments with home visits for this underserved population. The DGHVM will provide approximately 250-300 home visits during the length of the project.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Philadelphia is home to 190,000 people over age 65. Philadelphia has one of the largest geriatric populations in the country, with 12 percent of residents over the age of 65. The Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) reports that 20 percent of the City's elderly are below the poverty level, compared to less than 10 percent below poverty level for Pennsylvania overall. The PCA also states that one out of ten elderly Philadelphians regularly cancels doctor visits due to transportation problems.

"Transportation problems are just one of the many blockades facing the homebound, low-income seniors of Philadelphia, so the need for this type of service is definitely there," said B. Brent Simmons, MD, a geriatrician and assistant professor in the Department of Family, Community and Preventive Medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine. "The other obstacles this underserved population faces to getting proper healthcare include inadequate or non-existent insurance, high costs, lack of a regular healthcare provider, physical or mental illness, frailty and weather conditions."

These home visits will be performed by a Drexel Medicine team led by a geriatrician and supported by a social worker and medical residents. The number of visits will be based on need but visit intervals will not exceed three months. The team will conduct home visits for approximately four patients per month. During the initial home visit for each patient, a comprehensive geriatric assessment will be performed which includes eight vital segments:

  • Cognitive assessment
  • Functional assessment
  • Identification of geriatric social issues and barriers to care
  • Falls risk assessment
  • Home living assessment
  • Screening tools for dementia and other mental health problems
  • Goal setting
  • Delivery of findings and developing a plan of action

The team will develop plans to address all findings and follow up with continued home care, including referrals, case management, and follow-up visits. The program will produce measurable outcomes, gathering evidence on the effectiveness of the new Drexel Geriatric Home Visit Model and will report the findings nationally.

Patients interested in the program are encouraged to call the Department of Family, Community and Preventive Medicine at 215-482-1234 and ask for the program's social worker, Ruth Valentine.

About The Pew Charitable Trusts

The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today's most challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life.