MIAMI – Clara Temple, 103, is nearly deaf, partially blind and reliant on a wheelchair to get around. But despite her frailty, the upbeat, smiling centenarian lives at home, thanks to help from the Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly, or PACE.
The wholly-owned affiliate of Miami Jewish Health provides care for low-income seniors who are at-risk of being placed in nursing homes. The program includes a variety of services including daycare, hot meals and recreation.
September is National PACE Month in celebration of the clinical and support services the program provides to frail seniors in communities across the country. The 2018 theme “Caring for Caregivers, Caring for You,” celebrates the roles that formal and informal caregivers have in promoting independence for PACE participants.
The new Vital Research survey on caregiver burden found that 96.6 percent of family members are satisfied with the support they receive through PACE, and 97.5 percent of family caregivers would recommend PACE to someone in a similar situation.
“For decades we have heard from family caregivers that PACE changed their lives when their family member enrolled in PACE,” said Shawn Bloom, CEO and president of National PACE Association.“Now we have quantifiable evidence that this is true.”
For Ms. Temple and her daughter Clara Williams, 78, PACE is the reason Ms. Temple has been able to remain in familiar surroundings.
“She said she wasn’t going to a nursing home and she is going to stay in her home as long as God could give her breath,” her daughter said. So Williams and her husband moved in with Temple four years ago to help make that happen.
They quickly discovered they were in over their heads.
PACE Offers Solutions to Help Frail Seniors Remain at Home
PACE stepped in and solved their every problem.
“Most families want to provide the best care they can for their loved ones but might not know how, have other responsibilities such as parenting, or require professional caregivers,” Bloom said. “PACE can help fill in the gaps in all those ways.”
The PACE model of care is centered around an interdisciplinary team that delivers care across various settings. As a result, PACE can tailor care plans for enrollees and their families, providing respite care and caregiver training and support.
Transferring Clara Temple from wheelchair to bed was tricky. So PACE made it easy by providing an adaptive device, then trained Clara Williams how to use it. The program also sends a personal care assistant to the house for several hours a week to assist with the activities of daily living. A PACE driver transports Clara Temple to doctor appointments and a newly-installed state-of-the-art ramp allows her to exit her home safely via wheelchair.
“She wanted to go to church,” said Joyita Garg, vice president of Florida PACE Centers at Miami Jewish Health. “The ramp was worth every effort.”
Clara Williams said the help from PACE has been life-changing for her mother.
“It worked out perfect. There used to be a time where I would bring her home in my truck but she can’t do that anymore because she can’t get into the truck,” her daughter said. “PACE has been very good to me.”
Clara Temple recently celebrated her 103rd birthday with a huge party at the PACE Center at Miami Jewish Health, where she blew out candles on a cake, listened to music and watched as other PACE participants danced. She was surrounded by her children, grandchildren and friends.
“It is hard but I love my mom and we have fun. We joke with one another, we sing together and we pray together,” Clara Williams said. “I keep her in contact with all her friends: I dial the number for her because she can’t see that well and put her on speaker because she can’t hear that well. You keep them active. You don’t take away her lifestyle. I try to keep her doing the same things she always did.”
Family Support and Involvement Are Key to Success
Ms. Temple first enrolled in PACE in August 2006 after a friend of her daughter’s recommended the program. A PACE bus picked Ms. Temple up at home every morning and transported her to the PACE Center, where she played games, socialized with friends, ate lunch and enjoyed life. Clara Williams would meet her mother at the PACE Center twice a week and spend hours dancing and singing with her mother and her mother’s friends.
“She loved it. It kept her alert and she felt like she was helping the other people there,” her daughter said. “She was always a caregiver herself. When my father was alive they used to go feed the homeless under the bridge every week. She would cook. She was the mother of her church for 30 years – she would make soup for people at church who were sick and she would always care for them.”
The in-home services from PACE helped normalize Ms. Temple’s life as she became more frail.
The combination of devoted family members AND services from Florida PACE Centers made it possible for Temple to remain at home. The Medicare/Medicaid healthcare program designed to keep at-risk seniors out of nursing homes worked exactly as it was meant to, said Heber Yero, an occupational therapy assistant for PACE who’s known Ms. Temple for years.
“Without (her family) at home, she would have been institutionalized a long time ago. They advocate very strongly for her,” Yero said.
Garg said the program works because it really IS all inclusive.
“The team believes in keeping any member of the community safely in the community as long as possible through this interdisciplinary approach,” Garg said. “It’s their independence that is a priority. It’s a collaborative effort between the family, PACE and Clara, along with her desire to enjoy life.”
With programs in 31 states, PACE provides care to individuals age 55 and over who qualify for a nursing home level of care. PACE is the most successful model for keeping individuals out of nursing homes and in the community, where they enjoy a higher quality of life, remain connected to the community, and receive care in the most cost-effective way. PACE reduces the costs associated with emergency room visits, unnecessary hospital admissions and long-term nursing home placements. More than 95 percent of PACE enrollees live in the community
For more information about PACE, call 305.751.7223. Aging and Ability Resource Centers in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties can also recommend people to the program, Garg said.