BOSTON – September 9, 2020 – MassPACE, the Massachusetts association of the Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), is celebrating National PACE Month in September. The National PACE Association (NPA) has designated September as National PACE Month to raise awareness and celebrate the difference PACE makes in the lives of enrolled seniors, their families and their communities. PACE is a federally and state funded program that offers an alternative to nursing home care by providing eligible individuals with robust healthcare and social services to keep them living safely at home.
All of the PACE providers in Massachusetts are participating in National PACE Month by developing socially distanced programming to support older adults with long-term health needs and keep them engaged in their health. Element Care, a MassPACE program serving communities north of Boston and the Lowell and Lawrence regions, is conducting a Healthy Aging educational campaign to help members maintain their health while living at home. MassPACE is also using National PACE Month to highlight its ability to curb COVID-19 infections and, in many cases, fatalities. While 22 percent of infected nursing home residents in Massachusetts have died due to COVID-19 infection according to Dignity Alliance Massachusetts, less than 2 percent of MassPACE participants residing at home have succumbed to the virus.
“Every September, National PACE Month affords us a wonderful opportunity to highlight the significant impact our program has on elders as well as their families and communities,” said Candace Kuebel, executive director of MassPACE. “Though this year is different because of COVID-19, we are celebrating the resilience of our program and our ability to pivot and continue helping seniors living at home while navigating social distancing protocols. It has been a challenging several months, but we are happy that our unique structure has allowed us to continue upholding our mission of giving our participants freedom to live their lives in the community.”
To adapt to the pandemic, MassPACE member agencies swiftly transformed their care model, previously based in physical PACE centers, to at-home care delivery. The programs deployed tablets and similar technology for audio and video telehealth, social programming, nutritional counseling, and more to prevent gaps in care and sustain member engagement throughout the pandemic. The programs have also provided additional support and training for family caregivers when they are available to care for loved ones. Clinics at MassPACE centers have remained open by appointment, even while many appointments took place in participant homes.
“Caring for older individuals with multiple healthcare needs has been particularly challenging during this pandemic,” said Shawn Bloom, NPA president and CEO. “To keep participants and staff as safe as possible, the PACE model of care has been adapted from bringing individuals into a PACE center several times a week to providing services in the home. The flexibility of the model in the face of this pandemic has been inspiring.”
Massachusetts was one of the first states to pilot PACE. Since the launch of its first program in 1990, the Massachusetts PACE programs have grown to be one of the largest in the nation, serving more than 5,000 elderly individuals through eight regional programs across 28 PACE centers. Nationally, a total of 134 organizations operate 264 PACE centers in 31 states. Currently, more than 51,000 individuals are enrolled in the program. Though all enrollees are eligible for nursing home care, PACE has been successful in keeping more than 95 percent of its enrollees in the community and out of nursing homes.
In order to enroll in PACE, a person must be 55 or over, live in the service area of the PACE organization, meet clinical eligibility requirements for nursing home placement, and be able to live safely in the community with the support of the PACE organization. To learn more about MassPACE and enrollment, please visit masspace.net.
The MassPACE Association’s Mission is, through advocacy, education and policy research, to provide leadership and support for growth, access, quality, and success of PACE in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The VISION of MassPACE is that PACE will be accessible to every eligible consumer in the Commonwealth of MA and recognized as an extraordinarily innovative, accessible, valuable and effective model of care for individuals with significant healthcare needs.
About The National PACE Association
The National PACE Association (NPA) 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.