PACE Your Life opens in Milford Wellness Village
by TERRY ROGERS, milfordlive.com
Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) Your Life opened in the Milford Wellness Village recently. The program focuses on helping older adults age in place, providing them with healthcare, medication, transportation and even meals. PACE Your Life will hold an open house on Thursday, June 16 from 11 AM until 2 PM. The public is invited to the event at the center on Clarke Avenue.
“We serve people who are over 55 who live in our service area,” Lisa Bond, Program Director, said. “There is a really clear consensus that a program to serve seniors who really needed coordinated care and social services was a big need in the area. Meir Gelley, the owner of Nationwide Health Services, decided that he would move forward with a PACE center here in the Wellness Village.”
PACE Your Life is for seniors who may qualify for nursing home care but are able to live safely in their community while receiving services. In order to qualify, they must within specific zip code areas which include Milford, Milton, Lewes, Harrington and more.
“What happens when someone is new to our program is that we do an initial assessment and one of the things that is unique is that we have an interdisciplinary team,” Bond said. “Every participant gets a doctor, a clinic nurse, a home health nurse, a social worker, occupational therapist, a physical therapist, a registered dietitian and an activities specialist. If they come in the morning, we’re going to serve a light breakfast. There will be various activities over the course of the morning. And then for example, if they need to see a primary care physician or nurse practitioner, either because they have something scheduled like a wellness visit, or maybe they are not feeling well that day, they’re going to go back and see their medical providers. If they need physical or occupational therapy or speech therapy, they’re going to go back and get that. We have a rehab gym, and so they can get that done while they’re here as well.”
Bond explained that someone participating in the program may come simply for the activities or they may have a medical appointment. They are provided a large lunch in order to provide a main meal for participants who may not be able to fix large dinners at home. Transportation is also provided to the center. Participants must have difficulty with one activity of daily living which may have developed from dementia, a brain injury or even someone who may have had a back injury many years ago and, as they have gotten older, their mobility has deteriorated.
“We also have a smaller room that we can use for memory care or for those who find it too stimulating to be in a room with 50 or 60 other people,” Bond said. “As we grow, we will develop an activities calendar in a way that recognizes people are in different places. We will be able to take up to 200 people, although there will not be 200 people in the center on any given day.”
The center, which is housed in the same location as the Emergency Department of the former Milford Memorial Hospital, no longer resembles the stark efficiency of an emergency room. The walls are painted bright colors and a large, saltwater fish tank adds brightness to the lobby. The Day Center has a mock kitchen with a stove and dishwasher designed to help those with mobility issues. One counter in the Day Center is low to help those who may newly be in a wheelchair adjust. Lunch is provided by the Village Café, and they can manage dietary restrictions. There is a large room with bins where participants can store a change of clothing as well.
“We do provide their incontinent supplies as a part of the program as well. So obviously, we have some here in case they need them here. But we also have them shipped to their homes, so that they get them on a regular basis,” Bond said. “And what we can do is, we do have a laundry with a washing machine and dryer. So, we can do laundry on site. It could be that we’ll go with you spilled coffee on yourself, and you are a mess, and you need your clothes washed, we can do that here and get you changed. But also, if someone is struggling at home to do their laundry, like the laundry was in someone’s basement, right? It’s not particularly safe for them to go down anymore. We don’t want people to fall because that’s devastating. to older people, when they fall. We can have our transportation bring the laundry and we can do it while they’re here at the center. We also have the option of sending someone at their home to help with the laundry. So again, kind of work on the plan, in terms of what they think that might be best.”
The center also has a shower area for those who may have difficulty showering at home. The shower areas are large and can accommodate wheelchairs and walkers as can all of the bathrooms.
“The only thing here that is private, the only thing there’s a fee for as everything else is included is our little salon,” Bond said. “We are partnering with Polaris to get a barber and a stylist. And so, then if somebody did want to have their hair done, they’re here now and that would cost you a little bit. But it’s just kind of a perk. If someone has transportation challenges, maybe they can’t get out to the barber, right? So, they could come here and take care of it while they’re here during the day. So, I think that’s and that’s very nice. You know women, anything could happen, and we still want our hair done, it wouldn’t matter what your age is, you want your hair done to feel good.”
There is a large clinic area that includes an observation section should someone need to lie down, need an IV or oxygen. They are monitored by a nurse the entire time they are in the observation room.
“One of the things that’s really special about the program, too, is that we become the insurance company and we get a capitated rate from Medicare and Medicaid. And so, then we can authorize services, that team will authorize services,” Bond said. “We don’t have to go through the Medicare approval processing. We can have them come in and do PT. And so, we do a lot more, not just helping people recover, and get back to their baseline but staying met. And we don’t want them to slow down, we want to keep right on moving.”
The gym not only includes standard physical therapy and workout items, but also has a small kitchen so that those who may be dealing with mobility issues can be evaluated in a real-world setting. Bond explained that this allowed therapists to be sure they could bend over and get a frying pan out, could stand long enough to prepare a meal and other issues that could arise in an older person. The center also offers meal delivery services as well. There is a media area with a large television and a computer that is available to those attending as well.
“We have people who are cognitively intact, so they can come watch television or get on the computer,” Bond said. “This is a nice gathering area for people who just want to socialize. They may be in a wheelchair, but they want to get out of the house and just interact with others.”
For more information on PACE Your Life, contact them at 302-865-3565 or 1-833-PACE302.