The growing elderly population has increased the need for a range of programs and services to help them live independently for as long as possible. Westat studies many of these programs, often in response to Federal, state, and local government policy, planning, and accountability requirements.
Performance Outcomes Measures Project
For the HHS Administration on Aging's Performance Outcomes Measures Project, Westat has developed and tested a set of tools for use by state and local agencies to assess quality and measure performance for a range of programs, including transportation, home care, nutrition, and other services. In addition, Westat used these performance measures for a national sample survey of programs on aging under the Older Americans Act. The results of this study help address AoA's accountability requirements under GPRA and show how well programs are achieving their legislative goals.
Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Program
For the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Program, AoA is funding a nationwide network of training programs to orient service delivery staff, retired volunteers, and others to detect and report possible instances of health care fraud and abuse in the Nation's Medicare and Medicaid programs. Westat conducted a series of case studies that identified best practices at the state and local level in the implementation and operation of this program.
National Elder Abuse Incidence Study
Westat collaborated on the first National Elder Abuse Incidence Study, the final report from which was completed in 1998. During 1999-2000, Westat developed a public-use data file from the study for AoA. Westat continues to analyze the data, write articles, and present findings at professional meetings in the United States and abroad.
Senior Corps Performance Measurement System
Westat was awarded a 5-year contract by the Corporation for National and Community Service to develop a Senior Corps Performance Measurement System for the three National Senior Corps programs: the Foster Grandparent Program, the Senior Companion Program, and the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. These surveys, which will be conducted in two waves, will provide information on the following:
- Administrative procedures used by the three Senior Corps Programs,
- Volunteers' accomplishments,
- Benefits volunteers realize through volunteering, and
- Benefits communities realize from the programs.
Initially, a variety of survey methods will be used, including mail, CATI, and the Internet. Beginning in the second year the two waves will be combined into one survey system with eventually all data collection through the Internet.
Evaluation of the HOPE for Elderly Independence Demonstration Program
A multimodal approach was used for Westat's Evaluation of the HOPE for Elderly Independence Demonstration Program, which integrates Section 8 housing assistance, case management, and personal care services to prevent the institutionalization of low-income elderly persons. Conducted under the sponsorship of HUD, the full project included the following:
- Baseline and followup telephone surveys of 1,200 program participants and a 1,200-member comparison group;
- Interviews with case managers and agency administrators;
- Site visits; and
- Abstracts of program records.
Studies of Elderly Tenants in Subsidized Housing
For the project on Developing Recommendations for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Research Agenda on Housing and Services for the Elderly, Westat convened a panel of experts and developed a set of recommendations to guide the Office of Policy Development and Research in its studies of elderly tenants in subsidized housing.
Occupant Protection Issues Among Older Drivers/Passengers
The objective of the Occupant Protection Issues Among Older Drivers/Passengers study, for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is to determine how to increase seat belt use among seniors, thus reducing injuries and fatalities. NHTSA is interested in not only the design features of seat belts that may influence use, including comfort and convenience, but also approaches, such as social marketing, seat belt laws, enforcement levels and techniques, and other methods. Westat's research consists of the following methods:
- Literature reviews to synthesize the results of past research;
- Focus groups of seat belt users and non-users; and
- Observational studies of older drivers and passengers in test vehicles with various seat belt designs.
Improving Public Transit Options for Older Persons
Under contract to the Transportation Research Board, Westat is working on improving public transit options for older persons. Westat is studying the demographic characteristics and functional status of the elderly and recommending a range of options, including paratransit, for use by public transit agencies to address the mobility needs of the elderly.