Rest homes in Mass. keep closing as financial pressures mount


Rest homes, a holdover from before Social Security when fraternal, religious and ethnic groups pooled their funds to purchase property to provide housing, room and board for widows and others in need. There are currently 73 rest homes remaining in Massachusetts – rest homes now provide housing and services to low income seniors and others who can’t afford newer assisted living facilities.

Governor Charlie Baker has committed to helping Massachusetts rest homes remain open despite rising costs – he increased state reimbursement by 9% and increased the daily minimum to $74 starting December 1. Follow our link to the Boston Globe to read about the consequences of rising costs leading to the closure to the Somerville Home.

Rest homes in Mass. keep closing as financial pressures mount

By Robert Weisman | Boston Globe

SOMERVILLE — When the Somerville Home announced in August that it would shut its doors this fall, 78-year-old Elena Lowry realized that the world she’d known for the past 15 years — the friendships with fellow residents, the attentive staffers who made her doctor’s appointments, the cakes and special meals on her birthday — was about to disappear.

“I loved the Somerville Home,” said Lowry, who moved into another long-term-care complex nearby last month but misses friends who were relocated as far away as Tewksbury and Worcester. “We were all sad that we had to leave. But we had no choice.”

On Dec. 1, the brick Colonial-style building perched on a hill will become the 100th rest home in the state to close and displace its residents in the past two decades, according to the Massachusetts Association of Residential Care Homes. Seventy-three rest homes still operate across the state, but whether they can survive is an open question.

Rest homes trace their roots to the 19th century, when fraternal, religious, and ethnic groups pooled their funds to furnish large Victorian homes to provide for needy widows in an era before Social Security. Those that endure remain a vital safety net for low-income older residents, many of whom have mental or behavioral disabilities.

Nursing homes, a much larger sector, provide more intensive medical care. Assisted-living developments, which are typically newer, offer more independence but cater mostly to wealthier seniors who can afford higher rents. Rest homes, by contrast, provide room and board along with some services, such as dispensing medications and offering psychosocial support for residents with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or traumatic brain injures.

“It’s a great option for people who don’t have a lot of options,” said Elissa Sherman, president of Leading Age Massachusetts, which represents nonprofit housing and aging services for older adults. “Many of their residents would probably be homeless without the rest homes.”Keeping reading.

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