Power of place: understanding and advocating for occupational therapy's role in home modification
Meyer, M. Eleanor
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The number of older Americans as a percentage of the United States population is growing. A majority express a strong desire to remain in their homes as they age; however, the physical and cognitive declines associated with the aging process often limit their ability to safely age in place. Social isolation and loneliness brought on by stay-at-home orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 further limit this population’s quality of life. Evidence-based occupational therapy research has demonstrated that home modifications can be an effective and cost-efficient intervention for reducing falls and maximizing participation in community-dwelling older adults wishing to age in place. Still, varying levels of education and training in home modifications is needed for occupational therapy practitioners to help meet the needs of the aging-in-place population. Power of Place: Understanding and Advocating for Occupational Therapy’s Role in Home Modification is a web-based program in home modification for entry-level occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant students that includes training to become an AARP HomeFit® volunteer. Designed to be embedded in an existing course, the supplemental curriculum includes both synchronous and asynchronous learning grounded in theoretical frameworks of person-environment-occupation, adult learning theory, design thinking and social learning theory. Training to become an AARP HomeFit® volunteer provides the foundation for experiential learning in home modification. Measured improvements in home modification competency and student self-efficacy through participation in Power of Place will drive further student learning, spark interest in becoming a HomeFit® volunteer within their local communities and promote greater recognition of the profession in the public arena.