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CASAS: Projects

CURRENT PROJECTS

COMPLETED PROJECTS

Creating Aging-Friendly Communities

The Center for the Advanced Study of Aging Services (CASAS) is engaged in a multi-year program examining innovative approaches for helping communities to become more “aging-friendly.” This effort includes an examination of existing knowledge regarding the impact of environmental conditions on the aging process, development of a new integrative psychosocial-environmental model of “healthy aging,” reconceptualization of “aging-in-place” as a dynamic adaptational process that changes over time, and investigation of emerging models of aging-friendly community change. Among the products of this work are the first-ever Compendium of Community Aging Initiatives, documenting the various efforts across the country to help communities become more aging friendly, a web-based international conference on Creating Aging-Friendly Communities (described below), various conceptual and empirical publications and a book Creating Aging-Friendly Communities (Oxford University Press).

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The UC Berkeley Villages Project  

The UC Berkeley Villages Project is a series of related research projects aimed at increasing understanding of consumer-driven community support programs and their potential for helping older adults age in place. CASAS conducted the first in-depth study of Village programs in the US in 2009, and has since completed three additional national studies tracking the development and sustainability of this innovative social model. These studies have afforded critical information regarding the nature of Villages, the members they serve, and the services they provide. The studies also have revealed substantial variability in the implementation of the core Village model, with consumer involvement in organizational development and governance emerging as the sole characteristic shared by all Village sites. Factors found to be associated with organizational sustainability include financial reserves, human resources, size, formalization, collaborative relationships, leadership, and community recognition.

The Center also has conducted a number of studies examining the benefits of Village membership. To date more than 2,000 Village members from approximately 30 Villages have completed surveys regarding the impact of Village membership on physical and mental well-being, social functioning, service use, and ability to meet personal and household needs in order to age in place. Multi-year prospective data have been gathered from more than 400 Village members, enabling us to track changes in member functioning over time. The Center also has conducted a pilot study with a geographically sample of Villages examining the feasibility of developing a national data archive of Villages and Village members.

Support for the Villages Project has been provided by the Archstone Foundation, The SCAN Foundation, Retirement Research Foundation and Mather LifeWays.

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Evaluating Innovative Aging Services Models

The Center for the Advanced Study of Aging Services has conducted a number of investigations regarding innovative approaches for enhancing the quality of community-based services for older adults. Of particular interest are coordinated approaches to community-based care, and their ability to help vulnerable older adults obtain needed services and supports and reduce unnecessary use of health care resources.

One study focused on ElderHelp Concierge Club, an integrated community-based care model that combines comprehensive personal and environmental assessment, multi-level care coordination, a mix of professional and volunteer service providers, and a capitated, income-adjusted fee model. Our evaluation included a retrospective study of service use and perceived program impact, a prospective study of changes in participant physical and social well-being and health services utilization, and a cost-benefit analysis using an innovative social return on investment approach. The study found evidence of improved mobility, ability to meet household needs, health care access, social integration, home safety, and ability to obtain assistance needed to age in place. In addition, cost-benefit analysis demonstrated that the total value of outputs substantially exceeded the cost of the program, after considering likely secondary and tertiary benefits for a range of affected stakeholders, including elderly service recipients, family members, volunteers, and societal institutions.

Another project involved a collaborative capacity-enhancement process designed to enhance support for vulnerable elderly residents residing in a low-income, predominantly Latino community. This community-based participatory research effort bridged traditionally-separate domains of practice and research by engaging neighborhood residents in a facilitated process of community needs assessment, service provision, and risk assessment. The project resulted in enhanced community social capital, but also encountered a number of challenges that reveal gaps in the ability of existing formal systems to meet the needs of vulnerable populations.

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Creating Aging-Friendly Communities Online Conference

The Center for the Advanced Study of Aging Services hosted an innovative online conference -- Creating Aging-Friendly Communities - with more than 750 participants representing 47 states and spanning 17 countries. This unique conference synthesized current knowledge regarding proven strategies for helping communities respond effectively to the aging of their populations. There were over 30 separate presentations on topics ranging from rethinking transportation and housing options to how to create lifelong career and learning opportunities. Featured speakers included: Josefina G. Carbonell, U.S. Administration on Aging; Sandra Markwood, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging; Jennie Chin Hansen, AARP; Jody Kretzmann, Asset-Based Community Development Institute; Judy Goggin, Civic Ventures; and numerous other nationally-recognized authorities on aging and community development. In addition to live events and pre-recorded presentations, participants were able to use a variety of online communication modalities to share best practices and actively engage with others, including instant messaging, virtual meeting rooms, and structured collaborations. Participants also could participate in a Community of Practice, an intensively-supported process that included monthly expert speakers, access to peer-to-peer and expert technical assistance with leading experts in aging and community development, monthly community case studies, monthly issue challenges to help address significant problems and opportunities communities face, and ongoing networking opportunities.  This innovative online conference was made possible through generous funding from Helen Andrus Benedict Foundation, MetLife Foundation, The California Endowment and Sierra Health Foundation.

Click here for conference materials.

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Strategic Plan for an Aging California

The Strategic Planning Initiative for Older Californians was a 3-year initiative mandated by the California legislature (SB 910), which called upon the Secretary of California’s Health and Human Services Agency to develop, by July 2003, a statewide strategic plan for California to address the impending demographic, economic, and social changes triggered by California’s aging and increasingly diverse population. Professor Andrew Scharlach chaired the Working Group, convened by the University’s California Policy Research Center, which was charged with producing the detailed background information and analysis required for development of the State’s Strategic Plan on Aging, including a comprehensive assessment of the adequacy of existing state resources for addressing the current and future needs of California’s aging population, demographic and economic projections regarding the impact of population aging, and a plan for development of a comprehensive data archive regarding older adults in California.


California Family Caregiver Support Project

National Family Caregiver Support Program Evaluation

The Center, in collaboration with the California Department of Aging (CDA), assisted in the implementation and evaluation of the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP). The NFCSP, approved by Congress in December 2000 as part of the reauthorized Older Americans Act, was intended to provide critical support to assist family members caring for ill or disabled elderly relatives as well as older adults who have primary care responsibilities for grandchildren of other youngsters.

The Center's role included development of a profile of California's caregivers and care receivers, an analysis of the state's caregiver support resources, guidance regarding best practices and potential short-term and long-term data collection activities, and examination of the impact of the new NFCSP.

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Family Caregivers in California 

The Center conducted a two-year study regarding the utilization and impact of caregiver support services in California. Information was collected from a randomly-selected sample of caregivers, including those who received services and those who did not, following up on a previous household survey conducted in collaboration with the California Department of Aging. In particular, the project examined: (1) whether local caregiver support programs meet caregivers' needs as those needs change over time; (2) what barriers inhibit service use or contribute to unmet needs, and strategies for overcoming those barriers; (3) the impact of service use for caregivers (e.g., better health & psychological well-being) and for care recipients (e.g., delayed institutionalization, less vulnerability to abuse or neglect, better end-of-life care); (4) the service needs of California's ethnically and racially diverse caregiver populations, and strategies for meeting those needs; (5) whether implementation of the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) met caregivers' needs and improved their knowledge of local caregiver support programs; and, (6) ways to improve the utility and effectiveness of the NFCSP. This project was the first to assemble comprehensive information regarding caregiver needs and service utilization patterns, from a randomly-selected household sample of service users and non-users, representing the racial and ethnic diversity of California. The resulting information was used by planners, policy-makers, and service providers to improve services for California's caregivers.

This project was supported by the Archstone Foundation.

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Care Management and LTC Integration 

The Center worked collaboratively with the California Center for Long-Term Care Integration (CCLTCI) to assist the State and Counties to develop plans for better integration of long-term care services, in response to AB-1040 (1995). In particular, Center staff examined evidence regarding existing care management models and their potential utility for implementation to promote quality and efficiency in state-funded services for individuals with disabilities.

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Quality Assurance in Long-Term Care 

The Center conducted an extensive evaluation of care management services provided as part of the California Partnership for Long Term Care, an innovative partnership between the California Department of Health Services and long-term care insurance providers that provides consumers with the equivalent of lifetime long-term care coverage. The project examined quality assurance in three areas: eligibility assessment, care planning, and care plan implementation and monitoring. In each of these areas, the project developed a set of quality assurance indicators for assessing and improving care management procedures. The project resulted in a set of recommendations to care management provider agencies, insurance carriers and State regulators regarding strategies for assuring quality in long-term care case management services for elderly long-term care insurance beneficiaries.

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Personnel Needs in Aging Services 

The adequacy of existing public social service resources for responding to California’s rapidly growing and increasingly diverse population of older adults was examined through a statewide survey of Area Agencies on Aging and county adult and aging services departments in California. The study found substantial gaps in the professional education and training of current aging services personnel, with only 42% of adult protective service workers, 36% of case managers, and fewer than 10 percent of other personnel having Masters degrees in social work. Key barriers to hiring aging services personnel included a lack of qualified and properly educated applicants, inadequate salaries, and insufficient numbers of ethnically diverse applicants. Project findings resulted in a number of recommendations for policies and programs to better meet current and future needs associated with California's aging population, including the following: (1) increase the number of social workers, especially those trained and experienced in gerontology; (2) develop programs to recruit and train aging services workers, (3) increase emphasis on gerontology in University courses and programs, (4) create incentives and training programs for professional development and (5) increase funding, especially to offer more competitive salaries.

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International Symposium on Healthy Aging

The Center co-sponsored an International Symposium on Healthy Aging on September 13, 2010, in collaboration with Health Research for Action, UC Berkeley School of Public Health, UC Berkeley Retirement Center, UC Berkeley Resource Center on Aging, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and Routledge Press. Speakers explored healthy aging in Sweden, Japan and the United States, with a particular focus on immigrant populations. The symposium served as the basis for a book, Healthy Aging in Sociocultural Context (Routledge Press).

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A Training Curriculum for Social Work Students

The Center developed an innovative Consortium for Social Work Training in Aging (CSWTA) designed to strengthen the gerontological competence of future social workers, as part of a national initiative to increase the numbers of professional social workers trained to serve older adults. The Consortium included three academic programs and six practicum sites in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the schools of social work at the University of California, Berkeley; San Francisco State University; and San Jose State University and the departments of adult and aging services in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Sonoma counties. The project focused primarily on field education training within public sector aging service systems, incorporating a series of rotations through a range of county programs, including adult protective services, Area Agencies on Aging, and a variety of case management and in-home support services for elderly and disabled adults. In all, 37 MSW students from the three participating schools received stipends and completed training in aging services. Project evaluation showed the training model to be very effective in providing comprehensive training in aging services. The project was funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation of New York.

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