Aging with Dignity in a Supportive Community

On June 2, 2022, 2Life Communities, Element Care, and partner organizations and funders launched the construction for the redevelopment of the J.J. Carroll BHA building that will have 142 additional affordable units for older adults in Brighton

It was a beautiful day on Chestnut Hill Avenue in Brighton, where old and new colleagues gathered around the construction site of the John J. Carroll apartments. The Boston Housing Authority, 2Life Communities, and its partners, including MassHousing, the City of Boston, and Element Care PACE gathered in celebration of the unveiling of the redevelopment of the property. The building was chosen for modernization and currently holds 64 units; the new construction plans will create 142 new units and an 11,000-square-foot PACE center.

Amy Schectman, 2Life’s President and CEO, led the ceremony and started the event by bringing to the stage the city’s new Mayor, Michelle Wu. As a longtime housing advocate, Mayor Wu celebrated the planning process, which was inclusive of its residents in the design process. She then applauded the team’s collaborative efforts, choosing to partner with Element Care to include a PACE center on-site, ensuring these residents can age in place with the services they need. She closed her speech by switching to Spanish to ensure everyone heard her message.

L-R: Jennifer Crampton, Wells Fargo; Mayor Michelle Wu, Secretary Marylou Sudders

Secretary Marylou Sudders of the MA Executive Office of Health and Human Services followed Mayor Wu, stressing the importance of upholding the value of respect. She described how we respect our older adults by ensuring they have affordable housing and long-term care in their community. She praised 2Life for its creativity and innovation and for making it a priority for residents to remain in their communities, stay active, be taken care of and thrive. Secretary Sudders, a supporter of the PACE model, described her vision of having more PACE/Housing partnerships: “We are taking this model across the State, we can do it in Boston, and we plan to do it across the Commonwealth.”

Undersecretary Jennifer Maddox of the MA Department of Housing and Community Development echoed Secretary Sudders’ praises for the PACE model of care for older adults, “a few retire in Florida, [but] most want to stay in the community with family and friends.” Amy Schectman described how PACE shares 2Life’s goal of focusing on “holistic and preventive care” and keeping residents in their units, adapting as they age, based on need.

At the Podium, Bob Wakefield of Element Care

MassPACE’s longest-serving Board Member and Executive Director of the Element Care PACE program, Bob Wakefield, closed the event with key takeaways – the importance of affordable housing, the strength of the PACE model, and collaborative efforts like the JJ Carroll renovation, that combine the two visions. Bob describes the JJ Carroll project as a particularly innovative partnership that he believes will “address the social determinants of health on a scale that has never been seen before.” With on-site amenities such as an urgent care center, Bob believes we are one step closer to eliminating the need for long-term care facilities.

The event’s energy was contagious. The group of people gathered at the event were those who worked day-in and day-out during the pandemic to ensure those they served avoided the deadly COVID-19 virus. Their tireless efforts allowed them to form and strengthen connections. Together, they are creating an inclusive and supportive environment that gives older adults the respect they deserve. 2Life’s board chair, Jeffery Sach, summarized the project ‘s mission: “to encourage aging with dignity in a supportive community.”

Urge Democratic Senators to Keep HCBS Funding at $400B in Reconciliation Bill

Negotiations continue among Senate Democrats on the contents of their partisan reconciliation package. NPA has learned that the amount of funding for HCBS, which includes PACE, has dropped from $400B to $150B.

Read the full article and sign here.

Upcoming Event: PACE Policy, Expansion, Research, and Innovation: The Call to Action

When: July 14 | 2:00–4:00pm EDT

This two-hour seminar will bring together Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) leaders and experts, policymakers, and advocates to provide an in-depth look at the PACE program and its ability to meet the needs of a growing Medicare population. We will explore topics ranging from policy solutions that are being considered to address the Medicare Part D dilemma to the ways in which PACE programs have adapted during Covid-19. View agenda highlights below or see our most up-to-date list of participants.

Agenda Highlights:

  • Hear from Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and US Representative Debbie Dingell of Michigan’s 12th Congressional District on how PACE can potentially change the way aging occurs in the US
  • A panel of leading PACE innovators share what they are doing before, during, and after Covid-19
  • Key state and federal policymakers cover the major challenges, barriers, and opportunities to PACE expansion today
  • Leading advocates and policy experts provide a glimpse into the future through their broader vision for PACE 10 years from now

Register Here Learn More

COVID-19 Exposed the Faults in America’s Elder Care System. This Is Our Best Shot to Fix Them

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For the American public, one of the first signs of the COVID-19 pandemic to come was a tragedy at a nursing home near Seattle. On Feb. 29, 2020, officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Washington State announced the U.S. had its first outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Three people in the area had tested positive the day before; two of them were associated with Life Care Center of Kirkland, and officials expected more to follow soon. When asked what steps the nursing home could take to control the spread, Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for Seattle and King County, said he was working with the CDC to provide guidance, “but,” he acknowledged, “it is a very challenging environment, particularly with so many vulnerable patients, to manage an outbreak.”

It turned out the virus had already been circulating among Life Care’s residents for weeks by the time administrators took action, and soon it was tearing through the facility. By March 5, at least nine residents had already died of COVID-19, and a group of families whose loved ones were still inside held a desperate press conference. “Our families are dying. We don’t know what to do. Our calls for help aren’t working,” Kevin Connolly, whose father-in-law lived in the facility, told reporters. “We have limited resources to battle this disease, and I think somebody somewhere decided that this population of people wasn’t worth wasting resources on.”

Many long-term-care experts would say Connolly was right. The pace at which that first U.S. coronavirus outbreak spread through Life Care, killing dozens of residents in weeks, shocked the public. But for those familiar with long-term care, it wasn’t surprising. “We really failed in a lot of ways, historically but also during this pandemic, to value older adults,” says David Grabowski, a professor at Harvard Medical School and an expert on long-term care. That is to say, the U.S. health care system basically left its nursing-home residents as sitting ducks for a viral pandemic like COVID-19.

Read the full article here.

PACE Providers Shift Services Toward the Home Amid Nation’s Long-Term Care Overhaul

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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.


Read the full article here.


Focus on Lynn Seniors in New Vaccination Clinics

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LYNN — A new round of vaccinations will be going out to Lynn seniors next week, in the Commonwealth’s drive to get elderly people protected against COVID-19.

The new drive will be conducted by Element Care PACE, a Lynn-based elderly care organization that provides care to seniors who live independently, and will be focused on seniors that are in Element’s care.

“Our goal is to get the vaccine out as quickly as possible and as safely as possible, and to not waste any of it,” said Dr. Joanna Duby, the medical director at Element Care PACE.

The organization registered with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), and received its first doses from the state this past Tuesday.

Element has already vaccinated its staff and will begin vaccinating hundreds of seniors at two clinics in Lynn next week.

Duby has found a strong interest in vaccinations among the population she works with.

“The seniors are the ones who want it more than a lot of younger people, because they’re the ones who have seen the devastating effects of the virus on them and their friends,” said Duby, who reported that approximately 180 of the 1,000 patients Element Care PACE works with had contracted the virus, and more than 50 patients had died.

“It’s been devastating. In addition to the risk of getting the virus, the social isolation has been awful,” she said. “They can’t eat with their friends, they can’t see their families, and it’s taken a huge toll on their mental health and their physical health.”

Duby said the process of getting the vaccinations set up was difficult, and that she wished seniors could have had access to the vaccines sooner.

“It’s been a challenge,” said Duby. “It’s hard to know when you’re getting a vaccine, how much you’re going to get, when you’re going to get it. We hoped that the rollout for seniors would be sooner, especially for places that have been hit hard like Lynn.”

As of February 1, residents 75 and older became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine as the state opened the second phase of its vaccine distribution plan. However, that rollout has been blasted by state representatives and elderly organizations for being overly complex.

People 75 or older are asked to apply for a vaccination appointment through the state website, Duby reported that her organization was uniquely equipped to assist its seniors with navigating this process since its staff have close relationships with the individuals they care for and can provide them with vaccination information directly.

For other Lynn seniors, the process of getting registered has been more difficult.

Rosemie Leyre, 78, a Lynn resident, encountered several issues with the website when she tried to apply for a vaccination this week.

She found out about the vaccination process opening to seniors 75 and older from a neighbor, and went to the state website to apply. She entered her location and her zip code, as was requested by the site, she said.“It said this zip code does not exist,” she said. “Then I got a message that said ‘try again in 24 to 36 hours.’ And I had a few friends who had had the same experience.”

Eventually, she was able to apply through the “Patient Gateway” portal from Massachusetts General Hospital and scheduled an appointment for Wednesday evening at a Lynn site.

Leyre said her friends were very interested in getting the vaccine as soon as possible.

“The people I know are all very positive towards the vaccine,” she said.

Of the group of people she knows, she said only one of them was skeptical of the vaccination.

A Belgium native, Leyre hopes that once the virus subsides she will be able to visit her daughter, who still resides in her home country.

“I can’t believe how long it has been since I traveled,” she said.

Between A Quarter And A Third Of Health Care Workers Have Refused The COVID Vaccine

Read the full story here.

GBH featured CHA in a story about COVID-19 vaccination reluctance and efforts to promote its safety and efficacy. CHA PACE executive director Jed Geyerhahn and Avlot Quessa, senior director of multicultural affairs and patient services, discussed hesitancy on the part of CHA PACE staff and communities of color in general, and they highlighted CHA’s efforts to educate and support staff. CHA PACE nurse Yuly Mosca detailed her initial reluctance and ultimate decision to get vaccinated.


PACE program assists with care, transportation

To view and download a PDF version of this article, written by Melissa Erickson, click here.

Free program supports Massachusetts seniors living at home

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COVID-19 has dramatically impacted older adults, through illness or the isolation often needed to keep them healthy. In Massachusetts, a free program is supporting those able to stay in their homes by partnering with families as the pandemic continues to take its toll.

Gloria Williams has always been independent. As she got older and her medical needs increased, she was determined to stay at her home in Dorchester.

“Just to leave my home and to a nursing home, I’m not ready for that yet,” Williams said.

So about 10 years ago, she joined MassPACE: Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly. It’s a federally and state-funded program, an alternative to nursing home care that keeps seniors living at home.

“In general, older adults prefer to age in place at home if they can,” said Dr. Adam Burrows, medical director for the Upham’s Corner Health Center PACE program in Dorchester.

He said participants are 55 years and older, with medical and social needs that would qualify them for a nursing home. Instead, they’re trying to live at home and that’s where PACE teams come in.

“Made up of primary care providers, social workers, nurses, occupational and physical therapists, registered nurses, dietitians who together assess our participants, decide on a finely calibrated individualized care plans,” Burrows said.

Pre-COVID, much of this work had been done at the PACE centers — the clinical care as well social events — but the coronavirus changed that.

“So we relied on daily telephonic outreach. We relied on video technology. We relied upon staff going into homes,” Burrows said.

They also relied on family like Williams’ granddaughter, TaMarsha Williams. PACE hired and trained her to be Gloria’s personal care worker.

“It was all new to me, but I know I can give her the best care. When we were younger, she took care of me and my siblings and now it’s reversed. Me taking care of her, just trying to pay her back,” TaMarsha Williams said.

Burrows said that sense of community is exactly what PACE is about.

“When we think of taking care of these very vulnerable older adults, we’re also thinking about how do we create healthier households and healthier communities.”

There are 130 PACE programs across the country, eight of them in Massachusetts. Nationally, they’re seeing an increased interest in the program as families and older adults look for options.