Connecting Clients to PACE

This article was originally posted on MCOA. Read the full article here.

Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) are in sites spanning most of Massachusetts. They offer a strong opportunity for high-needs older adults to receive all the medical and social services they need in one place while continuing to live in their homes.

PACE offers transportation to their sites where doctors, specialists, clinicians, and other service-providers are available in a uniquely efficient and easy-to-access way. PACE also offers memory care day programs, meals, and social activities for people with and without memory impairment. PACE programs can also provide home care!

PACE was designed to provide a way for older adults to maintain independence while having their medical needs met at one site.

Eligible applicants must be clinically eligible for nursing home care, and they tend to be “dual-eligibles”: people eligible for both MassHealth Standard and Medicare (there is no cost to being in the program for these enrollees). PACE enrollment specialists assist applicants and families with the application process. More often than not, PACE is an option for extremely low-income clients with income below 300% of the Federal SSI rate and assets under $2,000. People over the financial eligibility threshold for MassHealth Standard can pay a monthly premium to be in PACE. For married applicants, the non-applying spouse’s income and assets are not counted, as with the Frail Elder Waiver.

As beneficial as it is, PACE can be a tough sell. Many older adults, particularly those living with dementia, are not at ease boarding a van and leaving their homes for an institutional setting, even just one day a week. If you are working with a client whom you suspect would be a good candidate for PACE, involving caregivers or other family members can be one strategy: if you have a chance to describe the benefits of PACE to a caregiver who will get some much-needed respite from the program, that approach may pave the way.

PACE can also provide a means of securing supportive housing. For more information on this, see pages 9-16 in the 2022 report created by MassPACE, LeadingAge Massachusetts, and the EOEA, Considerations for Combining PACE with Housing.

PACE is an evolving program, open to new partnership opportunities that increase access to its services by partnering with natural allies like AAAs, ASAPs, and community health centers. One such collaborative PACE site is Element Care in Lynn, a partnership between Greater Lynn Senior Services and Lynn Community Health Center.

Want to learn more about it so that you are comfortable talking about this option with your community? A newly developed, self-paced, web-training is available!