Operation House Call



Operation House Call (OHC) teaches young medical professionals essential skills to enhance their health care of persons with intellectual/developmental disability.   Offered by The Arc of Massachusetts, OHC turns to families, parents and individual self-advocates as educators in a health care field that seldom focuses on more than making a diagnosis. It is a rare and important training opportunity. 
At the Boston University School of Medicine OHC is a requirement for all third year medical students in their pediatric rotation; it has been a popular and valued course since 1991, initiated by two professors of medicine, including a pediatric neurologist whose brother has intellectual and developmental disability. In 2012 The Arc of Mass was invited to offer the course to two new schools: Tufts Medical School, and the Simmons School of Health Sciences.
At the core of this program is the belief that families are the best teachers. Its learning objectives are relevant to all persons who have intellectual/developmental challenges, and the families and persons who support them.
There are five key components of Operation House Call:
1.    An orientation class taught by a Parent Instructor, which includes a half hour of co-teaching with an individual with intellectual/developmental disabilities.
2.    A course website with articles, community resources, videos, and a private Chat Room forum for each class of students.
3.    A two hour home visit to a volunteer host family with a student partner.
4.    Required use of the Chat Room for the student to share his or her home visit learning. 
5.    Feedback from their host family for each student after the home visit, and support and further resources from the teaching team in the shared class Chat Room.
In Operation House Call no two volunteer families are the same, yet each family shares an important perspective and expertise about support for their loved one. All speak about their experience of health care: what has been helpful, or what has been difficult. Students learn how to learn from families in their future practice.
Young professionals gain knowledge about daily lives, modern support, the challenges, the resources and advocacy essential to best practice in health care partnership. Students practice building rapport and gaining information above and beyond purely “medical” concerns. And because the learning is done outside of a medical setting, each student has a chance to focus on these things without the stress of acute care responsibilities.


Contributors of OHC

OHC receives funding from two of our three schools, The Arc of Massachusetts and charitable contribution from the MDSC.


Over 300 health care students successfully complete Operation House Call’s program each year.  We are currently raising funds to support OHC at Tufts University School of Medicine, Simmons School of Nursing and Health Sciences, and Boston University School of Medicine.


How Can You Support OHC? 
  The Arc is currently benefiting from a matching program that will double your donation.  If you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution to Operation House Call, please contact The Arc of Massachusetts


By Email by clicking here,


By Telephone by calling: 781-891-6270 ext. 101


Or use our online form by clicking here


**Please make a note that your donation should benefit OHC**

Contact the Operation House Call Team
To learn more about OHC or to Volunteer, click on their names below to email:
Susanna Peyton, RN MSN, OHC Program Advisor | peyton@arcmass.org
Maura Buckley, OHC Parent Instructor at Boston University School of Medicine | buckley@arcmass.org
Ann Bersani, OHC Parent Instructor at Simmons School of Nursing and Health Sciences | bersani@arcmass.org
Melanie McLaughlin, OHC Parent Instructor at Tufts University School of Medicine | McLaughlin@arcmass.org
Jennifer Williams, OHC Family Coordinator | williams@arcmass.org


Operation House Call Feedback

BU/OHC medical student, Kunal Sanga, interacting with Jack Ursitti at his home

“It was a privilege to be part of this truly outstanding program. I have witnessed first hand…the impact of (the student) visits and I believe this kind of training is as powerful and significant as any."  Parent volunteer, 2010
“I can’t speak highly enough of this program – Operation House Call was the most eye-opening and inspiring experience of the (pediatric) rotation by far. Thank you for doing this, and I hope that future medical students will be able to continue to experience this year after year.”  3rd year medical student, 2011
"Thank you so much!  I am so so happy we were able to do this - it was such an eye-opener for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I was initially very nervous but sitting and talking with the family and really getting to know them was fantastic.  Definitely made a mark on my journey through medical school that I will never forget."  OHC medical student, 2013
Information & Resources

Click here to read an 2011 article in Pediatric Annals that highlights Operation House Call.
Click here to read an article or listen to audio published by Public News Services on Operation House Call.

Health Care Project Mission

Our mission is to champion access to optimal health care for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Underlying this mission is the belief that all individuals have a right to easily accessible, culturally competent, and high-quality health care in the community.

About the Health Care Project
Our goal is to advance overall health and mortality outcomes of people with disabilities, especially individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), because there are preventable differences in the life expectancy, co-morbidity, and mortality among I/DD as compared to the general population. We work to improve overall health through advocacy, education, and advancement of best practices.


The project is based on our research and literature about health inequities.  See our research report here.
In November, 2010, Rolanda Ward, Amanda Nichols (project director), and Ruth Freedman were published in Health and Social Work. Article is titled “Uncovering Health Care Inequalities among Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities”.  Click here.
To keep up with Medicare/Medicaid or duals policy updates please go to our Health and Wellness page.

Policy & Education

MassHealth is working on the "Integration of Medicare and Medicaid." This change will have a significant impact on our constituents.  Go here for background on this issue and responses from The Arc.  See Medicare and Medicaid Combined.


New medical respite home opens in December 2011 in the Southeast! Open to entire state. See the Brochure here.


Policy and education objectives were primary recommendations of our research report.  This link reflects the most recent goals/objectives of the project.  It is updated from time-to-time.

The project is guided by an advisory committee.  Members play various roles ranging from attending secretariat or commissioner level meetings on health inequities and systems change, assisting in reviewing policies and legislation, discussing best strategies on addressing barriers and participating by making presentations or educating health professionals and others.   
As noted above in November 2010, an article from the project and colleagues was published in a national journal. 
In December 2010, a conference on Healthy Outcomes was co-hosted by Springfield College and included more than 120 participants.
The project utilizes webinars, conferences and outreach sessions to work with constituents, health professionals and long term support providers.
Go to the adjoining section on this page to obtain information and resources.