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The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed a dire need to rethink how and where Americans age, most long-term care experts agree.
Investing in small-home senior living and “nursing homes without walls” are among the several innovative ideas that have been floated over the past year. Alternatively, some aging services stakeholders have simply called for a sweeping redirection of government funds away from facilities toward in-home care, something President Joe Biden is backing in his newly proposed “American Jobs Plan.”
There’s another way to reimagine long-term care in the U.S. that isn’t being talked about nearly enough, however: Programs of All-Inclusive Care for Elderly (PACE).
“I think we’re now in a situation across the country, as well as in Massachusetts, where PACE is being recognized as a significantly improved opportunity and alternative for health care delivery,” Dr. Rob Schreiber, vice president and medical director of Fallon Health’s Summit ElderCare, told Home Health Care News. “Specifically for those who are nursing home eligible and want to maintain their lives in the community.”
As of March 30, there were at least 138 PACE organizations operating 272 PACE centers in 30 states, serving roughly 55,000 participants combined, according to the National PACE Association.
Dr. Schreiber helps run Summit ElderCare, one of the largest programs of that bunch. Launched in 1995 as a subsidiary of the Worcester, Massachusetts-based health plan Fallon, Summit cares for nearly 1,200 PACE participants across five sites in the Bay State, plus one location in Buffalo, New York.
“PACE has been around for almost 50 years,” Schreiber said. “It’s still here, and it is one of the only validated models of care that has really been shown to improve quality, lower costs, improve quality of life and boost person-centered satisfaction. It checks all the boxes.”
Not every PACE operation is the same, but most work by melding center-based services with comprehensive in-home care. Summit, for example, coordinates services from social workers, nurses, rehab specialities and eight other disciplines.
“The key, the secret sauce to PACE is the interdisciplinary team,” Schreiber explained.
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