The CAPABLE Program: Supporting Aging in Place

Determining what matters to homebound elders.

Sarah Szanton

This month, AJN profiles Sarah Szanton, who created a program known as CAPABLE—Community Aging in Place, Advancing Better Living for Elders—that helps low-income seniors to remain at home with the aid of a unique home care team.

Szanton, an NP who has provided care for homebound elders, notes that “[b]eing in someone’s home gives you the opportunity to see what matters to them.”

The “person–environment fit.”

Szanton’s keen interest in the “person–environment fit” of her frail elderly patients led her to a different perspective on managing illness—one focused less on the “medical model” and more on “function and being able to do what they would like to do.”

In 2008, after the NIH requested proposals for projects to help the newly unemployed, Szanton wondered whether people with home-building skills could be paired with elders to improve their independence and quality of life. And the idea for CAPABLE began to form.

A unique home care team: nurse, occupational therapist, handyman.

CAPABLE’s home care teams are made up of a nurse, an occupational therapist, and a handyman. The patient identifies functional goals such as “to be able to stand long enough to prepare a meal,” and the team devises a plan based on these goals.

Today there are versions of CAPABLE in 13 cities (in both urban and rural areas) in eight states. Research has clearly demonstrated the benefits of CAPABLE teams. In the CMS demonstration projects mentioned in the article, 75% of elders working with CAPABLE improved their ability to perform activities of daily living, and over half experienced decreased symptoms of depression.

In addition, the program has been shown to deliver cost savings as a result of fewer hospitalizations, fewer readmits, and a decreased need for outpatient visits. Szanton notes that these positive outcomes come at relatively low cost because “it’s really just tiny things working together.”

Read more about Szanton and this pioneering program in the October issue of AJN. (The article will be free until October 20.)


Clinical editor, American Journal of Nursing (AJN), and epidemiologist

One Comment

  1. Lois Gerber October 13, 2017 at 11:19 am

    Like the focus on autonomy, home safety, and optimizing functional skills. A individual plan of care for clients is always important..

Comments are moderated before approval, but always welcome.

%d bloggers like this: