SANTA FE SPRINGS, Calif. – Denise Clayton knows she had been neglecting her dental care. With the assistance of health professional students from the University of Southern California, she’s getting the help she needs.
Clayton is among residents of National Community Renaissance’s Little Lake Village Apartments in Santa Fe Springs taking part in the Inter-professional Geriatric Curriculum (IPGC), an innovative course that pairs USC students with low-income seniors facing chronic illnesses.
“I felt like I have my own in-house medical team. They made me feel wonderful. They made me feel special,” says Clayton, 63. “I love the idea of a one-stop service for seniors. It’s a really good program.”
IPGC began in 2011 with a $450,000, three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to the Department of Family Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at USC. Nearly 400 future health care professionals have participated in the program over the past five years. At Little Lake Village, IPGC has partnered with the Hope through Housing Foundation to make the services available to residents.
The goal of the program is twofold: To better educate students from dentistry, medicine, occupational therapy, physical therapy, physician assistant practice, pharmacy and social work about what the other professions do, and to provide health assessments, exams and referrals for disadvantaged senior citizens.
Senior citizens are ideal patients for a multidisciplinary patient care model because of the often wide variety of medical issues they deal with.
Clayton appreciates the fact that she can now receive the medical care – and, in particular, the dental care – she needs. Costs had become prohibitive, but through the USC program, she has received screening and a list of affordable dental care options.
She’s also eating better, thanks to recipes provided by USC students.
Ciriaco “Cid” Pinedo, President of Hope through Housing, said Clayton’s story underscores the need for a more resourceful and comprehensive approach to senior wellness. He cited a recent study by the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Senior Health and Housing Task Force which showed that senior housing and health care are interlocked and warned of dire consequences as the population ages. The report noted that America’s senior population is set to expand dramatically over the next 15 years, and that by 2030, more than 20 percent of the U.S. population will be 65 or older.
“The integration of affordable senior housing with health-care and supportive services is absolutely essential to addressing one of our country’s most pressing public health concerns,” Pinedo said. “We’re appreciative of the partnership with USC and see this as a bold step forward.”
About the Hope through Housing Foundation and National CORE
The Hope through Housing Foundation, based in Rancho Cucamonga, has provided more than 2 million hours in supportive services to enhance quality of life over the past two decades, including preschool, after-school, senior wellness and upward mobility programs. National Community Renaissance is one of the nation’s largest nonprofit developers of affordable housing. National CORE manages nearly 9,000 affordable, senior and market-rate units in California, Arkansas, Texas and Florida. For more information on both organizations, please visit www.nationalcore.org.