As a healthcare writer, I’ve spent time in plenty of nursing homes, assisted care facilities, and independent living communities, but I’d never stepped foot in a PACE center until earlier this year. Here are three things I learned from visiting Element Care PACE in Beverly that shed light on why this senior care option is growing in popularity.
1. It’s a first-name basis kind of place.
From the driver who picks participants up to the receptionist who is familiar with their daily routine, PACE participants know the folks at their local PACE center. It shouldn’t come as a surprise – after all, many have been coming here for years – but it was nice to see the friendships between staff and participants.
Given how challenging it can be for seniors to begin a new arrangement for their day-to-day care, a familiar face checking their meds, serving their lunch, or greeting them in the morning can make a big difference.
2. There’s something for everyone.
As soon as you walk in, you get a sense of the lively atmosphere. On the day I visited, several different craft projects were underway. Friends were catching up as lunch was served, while cards on a nearby table waited for someone to get a game going. *According to Pew Research, 65% of adults over 65 consider more time for hobbies to be one of the best parts of aging, and participants at the Element Care PACE center in Beverly are taking full advantage.
Since PACE is committed to helping older adults live more fulfilling lives, each center is designed to bring people together. The activities and menus even place an emphasis on cultural traditions reflecting the heritage of the participants who come in, including those with Latinx and Khmer roots.
3. Participants value their time at their local PACE center.
Element Care PACE centers are still ramping back up to full schedules after two years of COVID safety protocols, but participants are eager to get in more often. Many of them came to the center five times a week before capacity limits were in effect.
When the Element Care PACE day programs at the local centers were closed for COVID lockdown, participants received medical care and support services at their homes and stayed connected to their PACE care team members via a GrandPad tablet.
*A 2021 report found 49% of adults over 65 felt COVID-19 posed a major threat to their health, so PACE’s virtual doctor visits and medication delivery service have been readily accepted among participants. With everything starting to open back up, however, it’s not surprising many are excited to get back to their daily routine of socializing over coffee and newspapers, and to see the return of activities like chair exercise.
As I wrapped up my visit, participants were departing for the day with a wave to the front desk or a doctor before boarding the Element Care van back to their homes. Knowing many would not be able to live independently without the medical and social support they receive from Element Care PACE makes each departure all the more meaningful.
To learn more about Element Care PACE or to find out if you or a loved one are eligible, visit ElementCare.org or call (877) 803-5564 (TTY 711).
Upon enrollment participants must receive all health care, primary care and specialist physician services —other than emergency services —as authorized by PACE, or be fully and personally liable for costs of unauthorized services.
“Michelle Ellis, Independent Healthcare Writer”