Bathroom modifications for frail elderly renters: Outcomes of a community-based program

Laura N. Gitlin, Kathleen Swenson Miller, Alice Boyce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Objectives. Little is known about the effectiveness of community-based programs that provide adaptive equipment to the elderly. This paper reports the results of an evaluation of a bathroom modification program (TAG ADAPT) that targets frail elders who are non-home owners. The purpose of the evaluation was to determine if clients: 1) improved in self-care, 2) encountered difficulties using equipment, 3) and continued to use equipment. The program is part of a community-based agency that provides housing advocacy services for elderly renters. Study design. A two-phase evaluation was used. Phase one involved an occupational therapist (OT) who observed bathing and toileting tasks of 34 clients prior to receiving bathroom equipment and provided instructions following its installation. Phase two involved a brief telephone survey of 75 clients who used TAG ADAPT services. Results. Clients were primarily African-American, female, lived alone and were 70 years or older. Clients who received OT intervention demonstrated significant improvement in bathing (t = 2.65, p < .01), ADL performance (t = 3.01, p < .01), and transferring (t = 5.08,p < .000). The telephone survey indicated that 18% of ordered equipment was not received by clients. Of equipment received, 84% was reported in use. However, 65% of clients reported either a safety or vendor-related difficulty with equipment items. Conclusions. The evaluation demonstrates the benefits of incorporating home modification as part of a housing advocacy service approach. It also suggests that home modification programs should use a professional assessment and adequate home or telephone follow-up to assure quality of equipment delivery, installation and safe use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-149
Number of pages9
JournalTechnology and Disability
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Chronic conditions
  • Home modification
  • Self-care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Health Informatics


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