WelbeHealth, a Menlo Park, California-based operator of PACE programs, has plans to expand into the Fresno region.
In light of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the new program will launch under a home-based care model, with the aim of providing safe care for seniors.
“Keeping our seniors safe and thriving is our top priority, so we’ve been aggressive in adapting our care model during the pandemic,” Paola Pouponneau-Nisbett, executive director at WelbeHealth, told Home Health Care News in an email.
PACE — or Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) — is a Medicare and Medicaid program that helps keep people in their communities instead of the nursing homes. Oftentimes, these programs are run out of community-based centers with the support of in-home care providers and their staff.
For WelbeHealth, offering an alternative care option to nursing homes was especially important amid the public health emergency.
“Nursing homes have very tragically been the epicenter of many coronavirus outbreaks here in California and across the country, and seniors and their families are understandably concerned. PACE is a great alternative for many families,” Pouponneau-Nisbett said. “Though all PACE participants are nursing home-eligible, 95% are able to continue living at home with the support of our program.”
Under WelbeHealth’s new expansion, individuals will be able to enroll to receive home-based medical care, dental care, physical and occupational therapy, and personal care. WelbeHealth currently serves 400 members in its markets.
“We provide each participant with a free internet-connected tablet, enabling our doctors and caregivers to check in with our seniors regularly via video chat,” Pouponneau-Nisbett said. “We’re even conducting many of the games and social activities we’d typically do in-person remotely, helping our participants stay socially engaged while also physically distanced. When in-person medical care is needed, it’s provided by a single caregiver in the participant’s home whenever possible, minimizing potential for COVID exposure.”
The program will serve individuals in the Fresno, Kings, Madera and Tulare counties.
Currently, there are more than 130 PACE programs in 31 states. In total, the programs include 272 individual PACE centers serving more than 54,000 participants, according to the National PACE Association.
Looking ahead, WelbeHealth has future plans to further expand.
“In addition to the Fresno region, our programs in the Stockton-Modesto area and greater Los Angeles area are growing rapidly, and we’re excited to bring the PACE model to more new areas over time,” Pouponneau-Nisbett said.