National Innovation Award Won by Project Wellness

The American Association of Service Coordinators has awarded its Affordable Housing Innovative Program of the Year to Project Wellness, an interactive program launched by Lutheran Senior Services in 2012 to help affordable housing residents better manage their health and reduce hospitalizations. The program pairs an on-site ‘tele-health’ kiosk with a parish nurse for consultation one day per week to monitor the weight, blood pressure, glucose levels and feelings of isolation and depression of any resident wishing to participate. The tracking of health data allows residents to have a documented history of their vital signs to share with their doctor while also identifying health trends that can be addressed through additional wellness programming.

Hospitalization rates among the 750+ low income older adults that have utilized Project Wellness have decreased by more than a third while resident turnover has been reduced by 6 percent and moves to higher levels of care have been reduced by 11 percent. In addition, 86 percent of participating residents say they are more knowledgeable about their vital signs and the importance of maintaining healthy blood pressure, weight and heart rate, while 49 percent say they have exercised more since starting the program.

Project Wellness underscores the benefit of pro-active and personal wellness offerings to older adults,” said Susan Hutchinson, Executive Director of Affordable Housing for Lutheran Senior Services. “The innovation of this program is the pairing of technology with the human touch, which is making a real and sustainable difference in the lives of low-income older adults.”

Lutheran Senior Services started Project Wellness as a test at one of its Affordable Housing communities in 2012 and has since expanded to all nine Lutheran Senior Services Affordable Housing communities. Today the program is also offered to more than 200 older adults living in areas immediately surrounding these communities. It is funded by a grant from the Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis.

The American Association of Service Coordinators advances the interests of the service coordinator profession and provides guidance and professional standards to its members. Service coordinators are members of the management team in affordable housing communities whose role is to link the elderly, people with disabilities and low-income families to supportive services and other community resources.