Supporting Independent Living Through Interdisciplinary Service Learning

The Community Collaborative Model


  • Nicole Janich Arizona State University
  • Natasha Mendoza
  • Cynthia Mackey
  • Nidia Hernandez
  • Abigail Henderson
  • Tama Reily
  • Rachel Lundwall



Service-learning, interdisciplinary, independent living


Service learning within independent living facilities may be a highly effective means to address the service gaps that challenge older adults and people who are disabled. We present a new approach to service learning by leveraging opportunities for community–university partnerships. The Community Collaborative Model (CCM) represents synergy between organized independent living and higher education at Arizona State University and led by the School of Social Work. The CCM is a unique collaborative service learning program aligned with current thinking about independent living, supportive services, and community-based service learning. We share lessons learned from the challenges of establishing this program, which included institutional hurdles, maintaining adequate physical space, student-focused planning, varying levels of preparedness, and stigma related to service use. In conclusion, we recommend means to (1) build interprofessional teams, (2) seek support and commitment of faculty partners, (3) ensure sustainability via community liaisons and clinical supervisors, and (4) create space for reflective practice.


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