When Clint Allison’s father had a stroke in 2010, he stepped in to provide the round-the-clock care his father, Bob, required. But not long into his father’s recovery, Allison realized he couldn’t do it alone, even with the help of his wife and children.
“We were doing everything for him,” Allison says. “Even though we had in-home supportive services, the number of hours it took to care for my dad far exceeded the number we could receive through the state. It just wasn’t enough for him to get better.”
Then Allison’s brother happened upon an article about Sutter Health’s SeniorCare PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care), which has provided Sacramento County residents ages 55 and older the option of a complete health plan for more than 25 years.
The national nonprofit cares for the “whole person” with a team of doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, aides and drivers who collectively provide medical services and home health care.
In late 2018, the non-profit Sutter Health opened a new 45,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art medical and recreational complex in Sacramento’s River District. The new space can accommodate up to 1,000 patients per day.
PACE services allow patients to age in place, meaning they can stay in their homes as they grow older with the help of home health care, as well as transportation to and from activities and appointments, instead of opting for full-time residence at a nursing home.
“PACE is about giving seniors who are sick enough to be in a nursing home the option to maintain their independence,” says Philip Chuang, vice president of strategy and business development for Sutter Care at Home, which oversees SeniorCare PACE. “We want our clients to be able to continue living their lives with the health care piece made easier.”
To qualify for PACE, an individual 55 years of age or older must meet the requirement for skilled-nursing home care as determined by an interdisciplinary team assessment and certified by the California Department of Health Care Services; reside in the service area (county and ZIP); and be able to live in the community without jeopardizing his or her health or safety. PACE is also a health plan option for those on Medi-Cal and Medicare.
“We noticed an immediate improvement once we got my dad into PACE,” Allison says. “Now he’s meeting friends, taking classes and doing things I’ve never seen him do. To be able to see him improving at this time in his life is a godsend.”
Allison says he especially appreciates the transportation aspect of the program. PACE patients are picked up at their homes by professional drivers and transported to the day center, on field trips to stores and activities like River Cats minor league baseball games, or to medical appointments around the city — and dropped off at home at the end of the day.
“It’s been a huge relief to our family,” Allison says. “Caring for an aging parent can be such a burden that you end up losing the connection with your parent. PACE gives you the opportunity to not go down that road, removing the burden so you can just enjoy your time with them.”