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OTR’s Determination Creates Home Safety Program to Provide Home Modifications for DC Residents in Need

Tori Goldhammer is an OTR from the District of Columbia who developed Safe at Home, a program that provides home safety modifications for qualifying seniors and individuals with disabilities.

Tori Goldhammer

Tori Goldhammer, MS, OTR/L, ECHM, CAPS, CEAC, CFPS

Clinical Manager, Safe at Home Program

Owner, Living at Home Consultations, LLC

Location: District of Columbia

Certified in 2000

2022 NBCOT Innovation Award Winner

Providing a Safe Living Environment

Tori Goldhammer, an OTR from the District of Columbia, developed the Safe at Home program, which provides home safety modifications for qualifying seniors and adults with disabilities. Funded by the DC Department of Aging and Community Living and administered by two nonprofits, Home Care Partners and Rebuilding Together – DC Chapter, the program incorporates evidence-based OT assessments to determine appropriate home safety modifications to decrease the risk of falls and improve home accessibility.

An individual must meet certain age, income, and residency criteria to be eligible for the program. If they are selected, an occupational therapist interviews the client and conducts a home safety assessment to determine which modifications are needed, such as grab bars, stair lifts, shower chairs, night lights, etc. The recommendations are then reviewed with the client and/or their family. Once the modifications are in place, the occupational therapist verifies that they are properly installed and checks that the client can safely use the equipment.

An elderly woman wearing a mask talks to an OTR at the foot of a staircase with a stair lift installed.
Representative Lois Frankel from Florida with Tori Goldhammer (back facing camera) during a home visit.

Determination and Grit

The idea for Safe at Home stemmed from Tori’s realization that many of her OT clients could not afford to implement the recommended home safety modifications. Tori spent over six years advocating for Safe at Home. She joined local advocacy groups, created and led the DC Falls Free Coalition, met with council members and agency heads, and testified at hearings. The Department of Aging and Community Living provided Home Care Partners with a small grant to see what they could accomplish. Tori, along with two other occupational therapists, performed home safety assessments and educated the agency about the needs of DC residents. Tori’s work and determination paid off when Home Care Partners received $3.5 million (USD) to officially launch the Safe at Home program. In addition, the DC Council and the mayor approved the Safe at Home Act of 2015, establishing a home accessibility modification grant program.

Results Driven

Since its start in January 2016, Safe at Home has completed over 5,000 evaluations. Data has revealed an over 50% reduction in SAFER Home Safety Assessment scores, indicating a reduction in home safety hazards, and an over 47% reduction in Falls Efficacy Scale scores, indicating a decreased fear of falling by clients evaluated by occupational therapists through this program. Safe at Home is a vital program to help older adults and adults with disabilities live safely in their home environments.

“I was living a different type of life before. It’s the little things but they make it so much better for me.”

“When I’m in pain I can actually get upstairs to my bed instead of sleeping on my sofa.”

“That toilet adjustment is just the best…it has made a big gigantic difference.”

Safe at Home Program Clients

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