PACE: A Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly

PACE program helping seniors

by Renee Rizzuti 

Does someone you love need supportive care, but wants to avoid a nursing home setting? With the senior population on the rise, the likelihood many will answer yes is not surprising. Millions of families and caregivers experience what it is like to drive their loved ones from appointment to appointment, manage all of their medications, deal with doctors who don’t talk to one another, and provide a safe home environment for their loved ones, all while juggling their own careers and families.

Up until a few short years ago in North Carolina, this example of caregiving was not uncommon (especially when nursing home placement is not the optimal first choice option). However, there is now an innovative and proven alternative that maximizes resources to provide high quality care and positive outcomes for seniors, through a Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). PACE is a program for adults 55 and older, providing community-based care and services to people who qualify for nursing home level of care. PACE was created as a way to provide seniors, caregivers, and professional healthcare providers, with the flexibility to meet individual needs, an “aging in place” approach to senior care.

Of course, the majority of the care coordination for a PACE participant, takes place at the PACE Day Health and Wellness Center. Here, participants will see their PACE Primary Care Physicians when needed, have all of their medications provided and managed, participate in a variety of rehabilitation programs promoting strength and falls prevention, take part in a variety of activities promoting socialization, and interactions over a well-balanced lunch with a group of new found friends. Transportation is provided to and from the center for all PACE participants, as well as to any medical appointments necessary in the community. In an effort to be a one stop shop model of care, many services are coordinated and provided onsite at the center, such as Podiatry, Dental, Vision, Behavioral Health, Lab Work, and Wound Care.

PACE programs are unique in their simplicity and common sense approach. By observing the PACE model in action, it is easy to see why this preventive care model is essential for seniors wishing to remain safely in the home they love.

PACE provides a broad range of services through the efforts of an Interdisciplinary Team (IDT) of healthcare professionals. This team is comprised of physicians, nurses, homecare coordinators, therapists, dietitians, social workers, pharmacists, and transportation coordinators who work together, in conjunction with an extensive network of providers familiar with PACE, to meets the overall mind, body, and spirit health needs of every participant.

The team works together to create an individualized care plan for every new participant enrolled into the PACE program. Both participants and their caregivers are encouraged to partner with the PACE team during this care planning process, allowing both parties to be actively engaged in care plan decisions. It is this coordinated care and partnership that ensures seniors are receiving the best and most comprehensive care possible.

The PACE model of care is a home and community based benefit plan, paid for by Medicare, Medicaid, Private Funds, or any combination of the three. If a PACE participant is Medicaid eligible, the out of pocket cost will reflect the participant’s current financial ability to pay for the program. Once these potential out of pocket costs are met monthly, PACE participants are not responsible for co-pays or deductibles while utilizing services in network with, and authorized by, their PACE program. PACE programs have demonstrated time and again their ability to improve care delivery, sustain quality in care, and promote the overall health and wellness for the frailest members of our society who deserve the opportunity to live independently with dignity and respect.

Should you or your loved on be interested in learning more about PACE in your area, please contact one of the following locations:

PACE of the Southern Piedmont (serving Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Union, and Stanly Counties) 704-887-3853 or www.pacesp.com 

Southern TLC (Serving Gaston County and parts of Cleveland and Lincoln Counties) 704-874-0600 or www.seniorTLC.org

For additional information on PACE in North Carolina or to read more about the overall PACE Model of Care, please visit: ncpace.org or nponline.org

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