CARR Develops an Assisted Living Accessibility Index for an Age-Friendly San Diego

CARR Develops an Assisted Living Accessibility Index for an Age-Friendly San Diego

The rapid growth of America’s senior population has engendered candid, pragmatic and philosophical discussions about aging by thought-leaders in government, medicine, social work, financial institutions, education and a myriad of other disciplines.  AARP’s Age-Friendly Communities movement is a prime example of one the innovative approaches born from these multi-disciplinary discussions.  San Diego, as well as 198 other cities across the nation, is actively pursuing AARP’s Age-Friendly Communities designation.

For senior advocates like CARR, one of the most important measures of a community’s age-friendliness is its ability to sustain seniors within their life-long homes and/or communities throughout their transition from independence into greater dependency.  Assisted living is an increasingly popular, community-based care option for meeting the daily care and support needs of seniors.  The San Diego Foundation’s Age-Friendly Communities 2017 Grant Cycle funded CARR ($30,000) to evaluate the status of assisted living accessibility in San Diego County’s communities prior to the influx of Baby Boomers into San Diego’s long-term care system.

The Creation of an Assisted Living Accessibility Index

Accessibility for the project was defined as availability (the ratio of beds per senior) and affordability (the percentage of seniors unable to afford median lifetime assisted living costs reported in San Diego as $4,000 per month for 22 months).  An Availability Index and Affordability Index were created and used as benchmarks to compare San Diego’s 39 individual communities.  These two indices were combined into an overall, replicable Accessibility Index to improve understanding among local leadership about assisted living in the community and to impart a sense of opportunity and urgency around the issue.

Project Findings

Community-level results were condensed into 6 regional Data Dashboards.  Project results indexed 95% of San Diego County’s communities as experiencing an assisted living accessibility deficit either because of limited availability, limited affordability or both.

Conclusions for 2017-18 Project

The results of this project may help community-planners prioritize areas needing greater assisted living bed capacity.  However, increasing bed capacity will address only one aspect of San Diego’s assisted living accessibility issue since affordability remains a barrier for many local seniors.  The final published report for this project highlights opportunities for policy, as well as alternative approaches to extend the quality and quantity of years in one’s own home (Renovate, Reinforce, Rediscover).  For copies of the final report, please contact our office.

 

Data & Research