by Cathy Kenzig, Executive Director of Senior TLC in Gastonia
While family caregiving can be a genuinely rewarding experience, the caregivers often face common challenges that leave them overwhelmed, anxious and/or intimidated by their duties. Caring for the elderly can be challenging and we want to do what is best for our loved ones. Have you ever thought how wonderful it would be to have a “team” of professionals to help? Senior TLC and PACE of the Southern Piedmont, through PACE, a Program for All Inclusive Care of the Elderly, gives frail seniors with multiple medical conditions the support they need to continue living at home instead of a nursing home. The program offers complete, personalized care that includes medical, rehabilitation, home care, medications, transportation, and much more.
PACE, a Medicare Health Benefit was created as a way to provide the patient, the family, the caregiver and the professional healthcare providers the flexibility to meet patient’s health care needs while helping them to continue living safely in the community.
The federal guidelines to be eligible for PACE are an individual must be age fifty-five (55) or older, have chronic conditions requiring nursing home care, be able to live safely at home with the aid of PACE services, and reside in the PACE organization service area.
A majority of the care coordination takes place at the PACE Day Health Center. Participants will see their Primary Care Physician when needed, have their medications provided and managed, participate in rehabilitation programs, take part in a variety of activities promoting socialization and leisure participation, and eat lunch with new friends. Transportation is provided to and from the center and to Doctor’s appointments as needed. Other services such as podiatry, lab work and wound care are provided on site at the adult day health center.
Most of the participants are “dual eligible” and qualify for Medicare and Medicaid. Participants are entitled to nursing home level of care type services, but they also have a caregiver at home who helps them. Participants spend several days a week at the PACE Center, and evenings and weekends with caregivers. This allows caregivers to work and take time for themselves. The program focuses on the overall mind, body and spirit health needs of every participant.
Staff at PACE Programs do the great work that they do because they have a commitment to seniors. PACE is a wonderful alternative to nursing home placement as the PACE center is able to provide primary care, specialty care, home care when needed, time in the center and activities to assure that seniors stay in their home as long as possible.
The Interdisciplinary Team (IDT) at PACE consists of medical providers, nurses, home care coordinators, therapists, dietitians, social workers, pharmacists and transportation representatives. They work together to create an individualized care plan for new participants. The participants and their caregivers have a strong voice in developing the care plan to ensure participants receive comprehensive care.
The PACE centers are large and spacious facilities. There are a variety of open dayrooms where participants eat, socialize and participate in activities. Other adjoined areas that are smaller caters to those with cognitive impairments. An adaptive kitchen area gives the participants an opportunity to cook in a supervised, safe atmosphere. A large room offers a space for physical therapy and occupational therapy to those who need it. The primary care clinic with exam rooms, completes the facility.
Trusting relationships are developed between the participants, family and staff. The staff at the PACE Programs know the staff and they truly love what they do and share that love and care with the participants. Many participants tell us that they do not want to be a burden to their families. In many cases participants come to the PACE Program with limited mobility. The PACE Therapy and center staff work diligently with each participant so that they can maximize their potential mobility. In many cases after several weeks there is improved mobility. PACE Programs change lives and create a “home away from home” environment.
PACE programs have been proven to improve care delivery, increase quality of life and promote overall health and wellness for the aging population with dignity and respect.