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Elderly can continue to live at home with care by Fallon’s PACE

By Janet Stoica

“Many people are just not aware of our services and what we provide,” said Dr. Robert Schreiber, vice president and medical director of Fallon Health’s Summit ElderCare PACE program, “and now that we have this beautiful new building in Webster that’s centrally located to so many local towns, we hope all that we provide for the health and welfare of our local aging population will become better known.” 

Before moving to its new and expanded facility in Webster in July, Summit ElderCare had been located at the Masonic Home in Charlton. As the local elderly population grew, Summit found that its space requirements needed to expand as well.

The program is all about caring for aging adults who want to continue to live at home. To qualify for PACE (Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly), a participant must be 55-years old or over, need enough assistance to qualify for nursing-home-level care but wishes to remain at home, be able to live safely in the community according to the care team, and must live in the service area.

The costs vary based on an individual’s income and assets, but many participants have no monthly premium and there are no out-of-pocket costs, like deductibles or copayments, for prescriptions or medical services or equipment.

 “We like to get to know the family first,” says Annamaria Salisbury, executive director of the Webster facility. “We explore the needs of the participant and their family and establish a program for each participant with one point of contact.”

Dr. Schreiber elaborated that the programs are effective, efficient, high-quality, timely, and culturally appropriate. “It’s the way care should be,” he said. “We’re about innovation and we’re always learning. The primary care nursing model has been around for a number of years, but this is where the rubber meets the road. We are meeting the challenges and the impact is visible. We’re all about being open to new ideas and meeting the needs of our participants.”

Fallon Health Summit ElderCare currently operates six facilities in Central Massachusetts: Webster, Leominster, Lowell, Springfield, and two in Worcester. They serve 1,205 participants, making them the largest organization of this type in New England, and the fifth largest in the country.

ElderCare staff includes certified nursing assistants, social workers, dietitians, nurses, and doctors, as well as certified lab personnel. The all-inclusive aspect is the key to their success. “We provide all of their medical care here,” stated Ms. Salisbury, “which includes referrals for specialists. We also offer a hair salon, lab services for routine blood draws, IVs, or any other fluid needs, and a library that offers two computers and many types of reading materials.

“We also have the peaceful quiet rooms for anyone who feels the need and separate rooms for higher levels of dementia along with a community room for memory support,” she said.

“Additional activities include pastoral support, art therapy classes, and pet therapy gatherings where certified therapy pets like cats, dogs, and even goats are brought in for our participants’ delight.”

Carrie Wattu, Corporate Communications Manager, was also quick to point out that field trips are an important part of the program’s offerings too. “For participants who are able we will go apple-picking, pumpkin picking, fishing, attend baseball games, visit museums, and even have ice cream and restaurant outings. It’s all coordinated very well.”

The day rooms involve many pursuits like body and mind exercises, a full-service rehabilitation room and gym for physical, occupational, and speech therapy, if medically necessary, and even a triage area for the floor nurses.

“We’re highly regulated by state and federal agencies so we ensure our rules meet those guidelines,” said Dr. Schreiber, “and we’re constantly working at meeting the needs of our participants. We’re always innovating.”

PACE provides support for family caregivers too; the staff will always meet with caregivers to discuss their needs.

The Fallon Health Summit ElderCare team is dedicated to helping participants maintain their health and well-being so that they can continue to live safely in their community. The new Webster location is at 108 Thompson Road, Webster MA 01570. To speak with someone about their programs, please phone (800) 698-7566 from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. www.fallonhealth.org/summit

They also offer home care services for the elderly that includes homemakers and home health aides.

A personal experience with PACE

By Janet Stoica

PACE day programs provide numerous services to the elderly. Handicapped-accessible van services are used to transport the elderly in the area to the new facility for its varied day program. This is “day care for our elderly.” As my dear mom, who has since passed away, used the Summit services, I can speak from experience that this program is one of the best around.

My mom was picked up twice weekly by their transport service and brought to Summit, where she was safely delivered to their community room and greeted by their licensed aides to start her day with a cup of coffee, tea, or juice and a healthy snack.

She would take part in numerous activities in the morning, such as puzzles, reading, bingo, and other group activities or, if she liked, she settled into a quiet room to take a nap.

A healthy lunch would be served, followed by more activities, such as entertainment by singing groups or arts and crafts.

The staff was caring and nurturing and just what she needed when her memory was not as sharp as it used to be, and when more uncomplicated activities were in order.

After mid-afternoon snacks, she was transported back home to tell me about her day. It took a lot of pressure off of me to know that my mom was being well-cared for and in a certified medical facility that could tend to most all her needs.

Caring for an elderly spouse, parent, or other dear friend or relative is very stressful and this program not only takes care of the elder’s needs, but it also provides a decompression day for the caregiver. If there is anyone out there reading this article who cares for an elderly relative, your best interests would be well served to look into this program or others like it.