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UMaine Center on Aging

The mission of the Center On Aging is to promote and facilitate activities on aging
in the areas of education, research and evaluation, and community service.


Bucksport Older Adult Housing and Service Preference Assessment

Funded through the Bingham Group, Augusta, ME

Project Purpose and Objectives

The Center on Aging at the University of Maine has partnered with the Town of Bucksport in performing a systematic community-wide assessment and analysis of the housing needs and preferences of residents 65 years and over in Bucksport, Maine. Support to carry out this study was made available through the generosity of the Bingham Group. Study findings are now available.

This project was timely given data derived from the Town of Bucksport Health Plan (Adopted October 12, 2000). In that document several points directly impacting on older residents living environments and quality of life were highlighted. In the area of housing the following issues were underscored and considered to be of highest (first order) priority:

  • The need for affordable, safe housing available to promote healthy, independent living
  • The establishment of tenant organizations and a town-wide tenant council to work with apartment management on these issues
  • Help for people to stay in their own homes by offering financial and physical support, and encourage acceptance of help
  • The establishment of a local nursing home
  • The establishment of a town committee to develop a long-range housing plan for the town

That report further highlighted several issues impacting both directly and indirectly on older adult housing planning:

a) Bucksport is an aging community and more home care options are needed to take care of sick and elderly residents
b) The stock of housing in Bucksport is also aging, with one third of housing over 60 years old
c) Hancock county has fewer nursing home residents than in southern, central, and northern Maine counties
d) Service needs are significant including the need for home-based mental health and substance abuse services, additional professionals with expertise in geriatrics, more training and support for geriatric service providers and caregivers, more psycho-geriatric teams, supportive interpretive services for older persons for whom English is not their primary language, and substance abuse programs specifically for older persons.

The assessment focused on four pivotal questions to be considered throughout the analysis:

1) What are the attitudes, expectations, and particular alternative, service-related housing needs of older (65 years and over) Bucksport residents?
2) What are the distinctive characteristics and "best practice" approaches to planning and implementing a continuum of housing initiatives in Bucksport?
3) If there is a preferred structural model guiding the planning of older adult housing in Bucksport what is the proper role of government and community in its organization?
4) What policy supports are needed at the federal, state, and local level to promote an adequate level of planning housing environment initiatives for Bucksport's older adult population?

Work Plan and Methods

UMCoA employed a multifaceted approach to the community housing assessment. The work plan included:

1) A mailed structured questionnaire surveying approximately 800 older adults living in the town of Bucksport.
2) In-depth telephone interviews with selected respondents to the mailed survey;
3) Focus group interviews with selected key stakeholders in the town of Bucksport
4) Key informant interviews with housing and older adult issue experts in the region and the state
5) A select review of related older adult housing assessment studies carried out in comparable towns and regions of the state and nation

The five central Study questions used in assessment are summarized below:

Study Question 1: What are the service variables related to consumer needs and preferences for different categories of specialized older adult housing in Bucksport?

Study Question 2: What are the personal and individual variables related to consumer needs and preferences for different categories of specialized older adult housing in Bucksport?

Study Question 3: What are the environmental variables related to consumer needs and preferences for different categories of specialized older adult housing in Bucksport?

Study Question 4: What are the financial and economic variables related to the consumer needs and preferences for different categories of specialized older adult housing in Bucksport?

Study Question 5: What are the regulatory variables related to the consumer needs and preferences for different categories of specialized older adult housing?

Findings and Recommendations

Findings and recommendations growing out of this analysis focus on consideration of service needs, housing preferences, location of housing, and economic concerns. Recommendations include guidelines for a combination of new and expanded existing services as well as new construction and renovation of existing structures.

Surveys and focus group results serve to underscore several points of emphasis :

  • Strong preference to enable elders to remain in Bucksport
  • Preference to target specialized housing for the lower and middle income brackets
  • Preference for a wider range of services needing to be established or expanded
  • Preference for a continuum of care in the types of housing and support services available to older residents
  • Identifiable locations in the town for both conversion of existing housing and construction of new housing for older adults
  • The need for renovation of existing housing including large, single and multi-unit homes
  • The importance of addressing a number of economic concerns for older residents including rising property taxes and homeowner's insurance requiring major renovations to retain coverage
  • The need to increase job opportunities in the town in order to expand the population base and increase the diversity and robustness of the economic base

Report recommendations take into consideration community preferences as well as current economic feasibility and are broken into four time horizon categories:

  • Short Term Recommendation (3-6 months) Take action now
    • Individual and group retirement counseling
    • High school student community service programs
    • Local information and referral service
    • Local community resource directory
    • Volunteer meals program
  • Moderate Term (7-12 months) Take action in the near future
    • Food delivery program
    • In home services (friendly visitors, escort, companions)
    • Develop transportation program for dialysis and chemotherapy
    • Develop transportation program for acute care services
    • Home repair program
  • Extended Term (greater than 12 months): Take action in the longer term
    • Door-to-door mail delivery
    • Garbage pick-up and dumping
    • Respite care (in-home)
    • Home health services
    • Paid meals program
    • Independent housing with services
    • Assisted living
    • Retrofit program - home redesign/modification program
    • Cost/Availability of homeowner's insurance
    • Promote town as retirement destination
    • Promote job opportunities
  • Extended Term (greater than 12 months): Do not take action now (reassess feasibility annually)
    • Adult day services
    • Expanded public transportation
    • Dialysis and chemotherapy services
    • Expanded acute care services
    • Nursing home

Author recommendations for establishing and/or expanding services include suggestions as to: 1) partners that should be considered in planning the services; 2) potential sources of support for offering the services; 3) special issues to be aware of in planning the services; and 4) initial action steps that need to be taken.

Survey conclusions emphasize the important of municipal leadership throughout the process. Specifically, it is important that:

  • Expansion of the service infrastructure continue to grow with the full support of township authority
  • The town commit itself to revitalization and further development of the continuum of care for older adults
  • The township establish a permanent township-based Aging-in-Place Planning Task Force to provide permanent leadership
  • The township encourage open communication among individuals and organizations at all levels of the community
  • The town insure that Bucksport citizens remain involved in the planning process

Attending to the needs of older adults in Bucksport addresses the desirability of Bucksport serving as a designated Service Center Community by the state of Maine . Providing the recommended services and housing infrastructure specified in this report will not only improve the quality of life of individual older citizens, but it will enhance overall community well-being as well.