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Integrating Health and Social Services for Older Adults: A Case Study of Interagency Collaboration

JHHSA, Vol. 30 No. 2, (2007)

As public housing residents age in place, they require health
and social services outside of those traditionally offered by housing
authorities. A promising response to these emerging needs is for
housing authorities to collaborate with local public health departments
to deliver coordinated services to older adult residents. Aging
residents’ health needs include health promotion activities, preventive
health services, health education, and mental health services, among
From 2001-2004 the New York City Department of Health
and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and the New York City Housing
Authority (NYCHA) collaborated to implement the Senior Wellness
Project. This outreach program integrated health and social services
provided by DOHMH and NYCHA, and delivered these services to
older adult residents on site in 21 New York City public housing
developments. Services were rendered at senior centers located in the
housing developments and in residents’ apartments. The program also
referred residents to community healthcare providers to address special
needs such as addiction.
This article retroactively applies a formal model for
interagency collaboration, the Stages of Collaboration, to describe and analyze the process of collaboration between DOHMH and NYCHA.
It identifies the successes and shortcomings of the collaborative
process, and explores the theory that successful collaboration leads to
inherent challenges for implementation. Recommendations are then
made for other public housing and public health agencies that have
considered collaborating to address the needs of public housing
residents who are aging in place.

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