Grants Will Fund Senior Telehealth Program
Published on July 31st, 2020 in Fair Share Housing Development
Fair Share Support Services, the award-winning nonprofit social services arm of Fair Share Housing Development, has won three grants totaling $33,000 to pioneer a telehealth wellness program at our senior high-rise housing project in Camden.
In July, FSSS received a $25,000 grant from the NJ Pandemic Relief Fund. We were awarded another $5,000 grant from the Nathan Cummings Foundation in New York and $3,000 from Rowan University’s School for Osteopathic Medicine under the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program.
FSSS will use these grant funds to purchase senior-friendly computer tablets and provide technical training so our elderly and disabled residents living in our Northgate II high-rise development in Camden are able to remotely access their healthcare providers.
Northgate II is home to a diverse population that mirrors the high-risk groups who are more susceptible to complications from COVID-19: 66% are age 50 or older; 60% are Hispanic; and 37% are African American. Many of our more than 400 tenants have been diagnosed with multiple chronic health conditions including hypertension, asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.
Telehealth offers medical professionals the opportunity to track vital signs with remote monitoring devices. Doctors and nurses can also communicate with their patients via a web portal or video chat program, which can allow them to virtually triage when a COVID-19 patient should head to the ER or is safe to remain quarantined at home. Our goal is to save lives and prevent our elderly and disabled residents from transitioning into long-term care where mortality rates can be high.
Providing low-income seniors with user-friendly computer tablets can also help tenants deal with the ill effects of prolonged social isolation, which is associated with higher risks of physical health problems including heart disease and dementia.
Since the COVID-19 crisis hit, telehealth and wellness programming has been gaining ground in middle and upper-income senior communities, but remains an out-of-reach luxury for poor seniors living in affordable housing. More affluent seniors are using portable tablets to watch movies, play video games, listen to music and participate in programs such as Tai Chi, yoga, and mindfulness meditation to reduce stress and anxiety. They are also able to video chat with friends and family members. Some seniors are even attending church virtually.
FSSS hopes to provide the low-income seniors and disabled residents who call Northgate II home access to culturally sensitive programming aimed keeping them engaged, connected and healthy.