CAPABLE (Community Aging in Place—Advancing Better Living for Elders)
- Need: To help older adults age in place.
- Intervention: For five months, CAPABLE participants receive home visits from a registered nurse, occupational therapist, and home repair services.
- Results: There are currently 34 CAPABLE sites across the country, 9 of which are located in rural communities.
CAPABLE (Community Aging in Place—Advancing Better Living for Elders) is a five-month home visit program that helps low-income seniors age in place.
This program was developed by the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. There are currently 34 CAPABLE sites across the country, 9 of which are in rural communities. Massachusetts offers the CAPABLE program through its Medicaid program, and four other states are considering or starting up similar statewide programs.
The rural sites are located in the following states:
- New York
For five months, each CAPABLE participant works with:
- A registered nurse (RN), who visits 3 to 4 times
- An occupational therapist (OT), who visits 4 to 6 times
- Home repair services, which has a budget of $1,300 to make repairs and install safety features
These visits are client-driven. Instead of the CAPABLE staff deciding what the client needs to do, they use motivational interviewing to help participants set their own goals. For example, if the participant wants to bathe safely, the RN might partner with the client to identify issues that affect balance, like overmedication; the OT could teach strengthening exercises and ways to enter/exit the tub safely; and home repair technicians could install safety features like handrails and nonslip treads. Through this brainstorming process, participants also develop self-efficacy skills to face any challenges that arise after CAPABLE program visits have ended.
The national CAPABLE model reports a return on investment of over 6 to 1, with over $30,000 in medical costs saved for every $3,000 invested in the program. Participants nationwide have shown reduced symptoms of depression and improved functionality. There are publications about CAPABLE, but there have not been any rural-focused studies published.
For more information about how CAPABLE worked in rural Hawaii and Maine, please read the 2019 Rural Monitor article National Program Helps Older Adults in Rural Maine and Hawaii Feel More CAPABLE.
A review of six CAPABLE studies was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Some sites featured in the studies served rural clients:
Szanton, S.L., Leff, B., Li, Q., Breysse, J., Spoelstra, S., Kell, J., ... & Gitlin, L.N. (2021). CAPABLE Program Improves Disability in Multiple Randomized Trials. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 69(12), 3631-3640. Article Abstract
Finding funding sources and sustaining a program after a grant has ended can be difficult for rural sites. RHIhub offers a list of funding opportunities, which can be narrowed down by topic and state, as well as a Rural Philanthropy Toolkit, which provides advice to help rural organizations build relationships with philanthropies.
While aspects like the OT and RN are needed to count as a CAPABLE program, national model coordinators can work with rural sites to help them adapt the program to fit their community and clients. For example, the site that used to be in Bath, Maine, used a different grading scale, the Patient-Specific Functional Scale, to help clients rate their goals throughout the five months of the program. In addition, this site also offers safety checks like testing or replacing smoke alarms.
The RN and OT each complete five 60-minute online learning modules, up to 8 hours of live online training, and five webinars or coaching calls. The CAPABLE FAQs section has more information about training, costs, and program support.
Contact InformationSarah Szanton, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor
Johns Hopkins School of Nursing
Aging and aging-related services
Home and community-based services
National/Multi-State, Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Texas
July 11, 2019
Date updated or reviewed
July 11, 2022
Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub, 2022. CAPABLE (Community Aging in Place—Advancing Better Living for Elders) [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at: https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/project-examples/1064 [Accessed 25 March 2023]
Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.