September 1, 2020

Theme of 'Your Care, Your Community, You’re Home' reflects this year’s challenges

Each September the National PACE Association (NPA) celebrates Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). This care model enables nursing home-eligible individuals to live in the community as long as possible. PACE is successful at keeping more than 95 percent of its enrollees in the community and out of nursing homes.

The theme of this year’s observance is “Your Care, Your Community, You’re Home.” It echoes the success PACE organizations have had in keeping their participants safe during the pandemic.

“Caring for older individuals with multiple health care needs has been particularly challenging during this pandemic,” said Shawn Bloom, NPA president and CEO. “In order to confront the pandemic and keep participants and staff as safe as possible, PACE care teams switched from a model of care that brought participants into the PACE center several times a week to a home care-based model. Their resilience in the face of this pandemic has been inspiring.”

PACE is a quickly growing care model that has been in operation for more than 30 years. A total of 134 organizations operate 264 PACE centers in 31 states. Currently, more than 51,000 individuals are enrolled in the program.

To be eligible to enroll in a PACE program, a person must meet the following criteria:

  • be age 55 or over,
  • live in a PACE service area,
  • have one or more health conditions that meet state nursing home eligibility requirements, and
  • be able to live safely in the community with the support of the PACE organization.

During the pandemic, PACE organizations have adapted the model in a number of ways to increase the safety of staff and participants. The program has provided further support and training for family caregivers when they are available to provide care. PACE programs have utilized telemedicine interventions from telephone calls to specialized technology. They have worked to find new ways to engage participants who often miss their friends at the PACE center. Each PACE center operates a clinic. The clinics largely have remained open to serve PACE participants by appointment.

"PACE is renowned as a high-touch, team-based model of care,” said Adam Burrows, MD, chair of the NPA Board of Directors and PACE medical director at Upham’s PACE in Boston. “The pandemic challenged us to maintain contact with our participants and caregivers and with other members of the team while reducing the numbers of touches to protect households and staff. Through the process, we've learned new skills and mastered new technologies that will serve the PACE model and vulnerable older adults through the pandemic and well beyond.”

The National PACE Association works to advance the efforts of PACE programs, which coordinate and provide preventive, primary, acute and long-term care services so older individuals can continue living in the community. The PACE model of care is centered on the belief that it is better for the well-being of seniors with chronic care needs and their families to be served in the community whenever possible. For more information, visit www.NPAonline.org and follow @TweetNPA.

Note to reporters: Contact Robert Greenwood at NPA to contact local PACE organizations for stories on how they are adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic.

NPA members can access National PACE Month Resources.

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