Lighthouse for Older Adults

The program pilot at two affordable housing communities aims to improve older adult health and well-being.

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69 WFMZ-TV News logoAugust 11, 2020

“Lighthouse for Older Adults,” a CITRIS and University of California Initiative, Brings Technology-Enabled Health and Well-Being to Low-Income California Seniors During COVID Crisis

Researchers at CITRIS (Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society) at the University of California are launching today “Lighthouse for Older Adults” (Lighthouse), a public-private initiative to pilot access to telehealth and internet services to low-income seniors. With $3.6 million in funding and partners including affordable housing providers, technology distributors, and NGOs, Lighthouse aims to equip older adult residents of affordable housing communities with internet access, telehealth tools, and digital literacy skills they need to access information, health care services, and social connections.

“Older adults in affordable housing communities are one of the most underserved populations affected by COVID-19,” said CITRIS Health Director and Lighthouse project lead David Lindeman. “They are especially vulnerable due to limited access to information, connection, and health care services. The isolation caused by social distancing further exacerbates this challenge.”

The Cameron Park Corvette Club has been in existence since 1991. The club’s motto reads: “To have fun! To drive that car, that for some reason is sucking all that money from your checkbook! To meet other people who are stuck in the past and love it! And to assist each other in having a great time by owning a ‘legend.’ Corvettes Forever!”

Affordable housing, a critical safety net for poor older adults, suffers from limited access to technology and a lack of resources and staff. Residents of these communities often don’t have reliable access to devices, sufficient bandwidth for telehealth, or adequate social services, further complicated by the need for multi-lingual and culturally sensitive programs.

Lighthouse will develop and deploy a technology-enabled ecosystem to promote health and well-being that can serve as a model for replication. The program will include internet access, digital hardware and software, telehealth technology, and community-based, peer-to-peer digital literacy training in two California affordable housing buildings. In partnership with CDW Healthcare, Decimal.health, and the Healthy Aging in a Digital World initiative at UC Davis Health, Lighthouse will address the two largest barriers to the successful adoption of telehealth and other technology tools: internet infrastructure and effective digital skills training.

The pilot program will serve more than 300 older adults and launch in two Northern and Southern California communities operated by Front Porch and Eskaton, nonprofit senior living providers that manage a combined portfolio of 38 affordable housing communities. Upon the successful implementation at these two pilot sites, Lighthouse aims to then expand to four additional affordable housing communities. With an emphasis on robust evaluation and refinement, Lighthouse will develop a strategy for replication and scaling for California and to other parts of the country. Read more.

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