A stalwart Southwest Michigan agency, critical to the elderly population, has met the challenge well for the past eight years, even during the global health crisis, and now they are marking their 8th anniversary during National PACE Month here in September.
PACE of Southwest Michigan, located in St. Joseph, is celebrating National PACE Month through the designation of the National PACE Association. They see the month as an opportunity to raise awareness and celebrate the difference PACE makes in the lives of seniors enrolled in the program as well as their families and their communities. Across the nation, PACE organizations care for 95-percent of enrollees in their homes rather than in a nursing home.
Therese Saggau is CEO of PACE of Southwest Michigan. She says, “We are proud to enter our eighth year serving older adults in Cass, Van Buren and Berrien Counties,” and adds, “PACE continues to provide optimal care to our participants, supporting them and their families with a highly dedicated team of professionals. Even during the global health crisis, PACE has met the challenge and adapted quickly to meet the needs of those we serve and keep them safe in their homes.”
In order to enroll in PACE SWMI, a person must be:
- Age 55 or older
- Live in Berrien, Cass, or Van Buren County
- Meet clinical eligibility requirements for nursing home level of care
- Be able to live safely in the community with the support of PACE
Around the country, 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.
Shawn Bloom, NPA President and CEO, says, “Caring for older individuals with multiple health care needs has been particularly challenging during this pandemic,” and adds, “To keep participants and staff as safe as possible, the PACE model of care has been adapted from bringing participants into the PACE Day Center for socialization and activities, to providing services in the home. The resilience of the model in the face of this pandemic has been inspiring.”
During the pandemic, PACE of Southwest Michigan has adapted the PACE model of care to increase the safety of participants and staff. They brought the care to the participants’ homes. Although the Day Center is still open for socialization, the number of participants who attend each day is limited, with strict protocols in place for the health and safety of participants and staff.
Since many participants are now spending more time at home, PACE staff has found new ways to engage with them. For instance, participants can join virtual meetings such as the popular bible studies. The Activities Coordinator and Chaplain visit participants in their homes and make calls to participants daily. Fun projects are sent to the participants’ homes so they can still engage in some of the activities they enjoyed at the Day Center.
The clinic and the therapy department at the PACE Day Center have remained open to serve participants by appointment. PACE also uses telemedicine when appropriate.
Therese Saggau, CEO, admits, “We miss seeing so many of our participants in person at the Day Center,” but adds, “We look forward to the day when we can welcome them all back to the Day Center safely!”
Saggau notes, “Our hope is to continue to reach more and more older adults in our community who would benefit from our unique model of coordinated care. Now more than ever, we need to connect with one another and provide support. Isolation is so difficult, especially for the elderly. Reach out to PACE to learn what we can provide for you and your family.”
For more information about PACE, you can call 269-408-4350 or visit online at: http://paceswmi.org