Sharing Active Independent Lives (SAIL) began as a vision in 2004 and has evolved into a real-life membership organization designed to improve the health and well-being of people as they age.
The vision began taking shape in September 2002, when the Madison Area Continuing Care Consortium, Inc. (MACCC), now named AgeBetter, Inc., sponsored a public forum in Dane County, Wisconsin, to explore the growing population of people over 60 years of age and the resources needed to uphold the quality of life for them.
Following this forum, MACCC submitted a proposal to the U.S. Agency on Aging for a one-year Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC) Demonstration Project, a term coined by University of Wisconsin professor Dr. Michael Hunt, a SAIL colleague. In 2004, MACCC received a federal appropriation to begin the project, in addition to receiving funding from the Madison Community Foundation. The NORC Demonstration began offering services on March 1, 2005.
The NORC project, now called Sharing Active Independent Lives, is designed as an economical, sustainable, member-driven model of services aimed at keeping people healthy and in their own homes as they age. Interestingly, during SAIL’s first year of operation, a similar organization in Boston, MA called Beacon Hill Village was featured in the New York Times. This article generated interest from all across the nation prompting Beacon Hill Village to sponsor a national conference in May 2007. SAIL’s Program Director served as a panelist at the conference, representing the only other almost identical model already in existence at that time. The conference was the beginning of what is now called the "village movement" with Beacon Hill Village leading the way. SAIL is proud to have disseminated information and materials to several of the newly established programs. In 2010, Beacon Hill Village launched a new organization, the Village to Village Network, of which SAIL is an active member.
SAIL addresses the challenges associated with a rapidly growing population of seniors, a limited labor force, lack of government funding, and changing preferences of people as they age. Through combining public and private funding, collaborating with the University of Wisconsin, partnering with local existing agencies and introducing state-of-the-art technology, SAIL will not only meet the needs of the growing population, but will improve the quality of care provided to older people in general.