We are extremely proud of our partnership with Saint Catherine University’s graduate Occupational Therapy program and Associate Professor Catherine Sullivan.

Through this partnership, we collaborate on service-learning projects that involve graduate occupational therapy (OT) students evaluating the homes of low-income older adults for safety and making recommendations for modifications designed to reduce the risk of falls and other injuries. Our volunteers and/or contractors then make the modifications that are within the scope of our programs. St. Kate’s OT students have completed more than 150 occupational therapy assessments for homeowners in need through this partnership over the last five years.

With the support of the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), we expanded this partnership in 2014 and 2015 to implement more sophisticated assessment tools and conduct an outcome study, which resulted in the publication of a thesis.  This study shows how in-home environmental modifications can have a statistically significant impact on improving the mobility of older adults throughout his or her community and within the home, reducing the fear of falling, and increasing the satisfaction and level of performance in completing home occupational tasks.

Our collaboration with Professor Sullivan and her students has enabled Rebuilding Together Twin Cities to provide accessibility modifications for low-income seniors that are tailored specifically to their individual needs and home environment.  As a result, we are able to better-serve older adults, allowing them to remain in their homes and neighborhoods for longer.  This partnership has served as a catalyst for us to expand our accessibility modification programs to include larger modifications that facilitate single-level living and aging-in-place.  It has also fundamentally changed how we evaluate our accessibility programs.  We have moved far beyond traditional homeowner satisfaction surveys to a more robust, quantitative pre- and post-project assessment process that can provide statistical data showing the impact of our work.  Professor Sullivan and her students have been an important resource in our efforts to help older adults age-in-place successfully and this collaboration has elevated the level of understanding of this work among our staff, Board members, volunteers, and supporters.

We are grateful to Professor Sullivan and her students and look forward to continuing this partnership!