With the arrival and ongoing existence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the golden years have turned scary for aging seniors. But for patients who need long-term care services and are not comfortable with moving into a nursing home during this time, Rochester Regional Health offers another safe, alternative solution with our ElderONE program.
“Many patients and families are not aware that there are other alternatives besides skilled nursing or assisted living facilities, especially during this health crisis,” said Stephen Ryan, MD, Medical Director of ElderONE. “ElderONE is a great option for families who don’t want to send elderly relatives to a nursing home but can’t stop working to care for them full time.”
ElderONE, an affiliate of Rochester Regional Health, is a Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). PACE is a longstanding Medicare and Medicaid program that provides comprehensive medical and social services enabling older adults to live in the community instead of a nursing home or other care facility. PACE services are available at no cost to most participants as part of their Medicare and Medicaid benefits.
ElderONE enrolls individuals who are 55 or older and require the level of care that would allow them to reside in a long-term care facility, determined by their ability to complete tasks such as eating, dressing, and bathing.
Participants must be able to live safely in their communities with ElderONE assistance—instead of moving to a facility, such as a nursing home, they stay in their own homes and apartments. Participants must also have Medicaid or be Medicaid eligible; however, private pay is also an option.
ElderONE gives seniors all their needed care services and support that allows them to remain at home and maintain their independence. All care and services are personalized and coordinated by an interdisciplinary team of medical and social service providers. This team includes a registered nurse, recreation therapist, dietitian, occupational therapist, day center manager, home care coordinator, personal care attendant, transportation coordinator, primary care provider, social worker, and physical therapist, as well as other specialists such as a behavioral health therapist, pharmacist or psychiatrist.
Because ElderONE centers its focus around individualized care for its participants, the program has a lot of flexibility in what its care and services look like to each person enrolled in the program. That flexibility has been essential in allowing ElderONE to meet enrollees’ needs during the pandemic.
While COVID-19 brought many changes for both ElderONE participants and nursing home residents, ElderONE participants were not subject to all of the same restrictions. “Normally our participants would come into the day center for their medical needs and social activities but that was no longer an option," said Amy Spallina, Director of Clinical Services and Nursing at ElderONE. "Luckily, since ElderONE participants can live independently in their homes, they didn’t have to forego family visitation like many skilled nursing facility residents had to. We just encouraged our participants and their families to practice good hand hygiene, keep 6 feet apart when able, get together outdoors if possible, and stay away if they had any symptoms of COVID-19.”
“Having seniors in a PACE program, like ElderONE, is a safe alternative because we can provide all necessities, including meal and medication deliveries, assistance in the home, and meaningful social engagement from the safety of their homes,” said Spallina.
At the height of the pandemic, ElderONE closed their day centers for social activities and medical appointments and had transitioned to a remote, at-home care model to serve seniors while keeping them physically shielded from the spread of the virus. ElderONE staff checked in with participants via phone multiple times a day, asking them COVID-19 screening questions as recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They also delivered meals and medications to participants’ doors and the ElderONE chaplain even provided prayer services over the phone to those who wanted it.
“As a team we have been able to transform the program from one where many services are provided in the ElderONE day center to one where we can provide services in the home, providing a safe alternative model of care during the pandemic,” says Spallina.
Once the communities opened again, ElderONE facilities opened to participants, but on a limited basis to allow for proper social distancing. ElderONE is also implementing COVID screening for all employees and participants who enter the facilities.
Of the 750 participants in the ElderONE PACE program (covering Monroe, Wayne, and Ontario counties), less than 5% have tested positive for COVID-19.
For more information on ElderONE, participant eligibility, and how to make a referral, please call (585) 922-2831.Learn How to Enroll
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