Sandbox – PACE’ n the final years
by Kerianne Lawson, LCSW, MSG
Chief Programs Officer
Beach Cities Health District
PACE stands for the Program for All-inclusive Care for the Elderly. PACE is a program for Medi-Cal and Medicare eligible older adults who are at risk for moving into a nursing home or who are trying to return to living in the community after a nursing home stay. All-inclusive means that all the medical services such as primary care, dental care, nutrition, medication management, physical therapy and occupational therapy are included in the PACE center. The PACE center also provides an adult day center on-site. Older adults can spend the day at the center participating in programs, socializing, and having breakfast, and lunch while also attending their medical appointments. PACE will also cover in-home services including home health aides, occupational therapy assessments and home delivered meals.
Beach Cities Health District currently provides care management services to improve the quality of life and maintain the independence of older adult residents and residents with disabilities within the Beach Cities. Care Management is available for older adults (ages 60-plus) and adults with disabilities (ages 18-59) living in Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach or Redondo Beach.
Care management provides confidential, in-home visits and assessments along with recommended care plans and frequent follow-up from professional Care Managers. The goal is to support independent living at home as long as safely possible, while staying connected to the community. This program helps individuals who have complex service requirements receive assistance in a timely manner in the form they need and prefer, while using resources responsibly. BCHD has volunteers specifically for this program who support clients with errand assistance, socialization and well-being calls. Again, this program is exclusively provided to residents of Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach. Residents interested in learning more about joining the care management program are invited to call (310) 374-3426 extension: 8256.
Four percent of Beach Cities residents over the age of 64 live below the federal poverty level, approximately 714 individuals, and 90 percent of the 475 unduplicated older adults participating in the care management program live below the federal poverty level. We know of older adults participating in care management who would be eligible for PACE right now if they had access to the program.
Currently, the closest PACE program is provided by AltaMed in South Los Angeles. It would involve a 30-minute ride in a shared van, which is a long time for a frail, older adult from the Beach Cities. Inaccessibility, as represented in travel times and distance, is a key barrier to accessing PACE services for most frail older adults, and results in the low utilization rates mentioned by a previous letter writer. There are only 33 PACE centers serving older adults in the state of California and only 30 states offer the PACE benefit as part of their Medicaid (MediCal in California) program.
We know our residents want local solutions to their health care needs. PACE is an important program for our most frail, low-income residents who are struggling to stay in our community. While it’s true that the PACE center may end up serving older adults from surrounding communities, it is also true that our residents won’t have convenient, local access to this program unless we build it. ER