Solutions for Caregivers: Home Care, Care Coordination, PACE

Preparing a Thanksgiving meal.

 By Maureen Hewitt

We know being a full-time or part-time caregiver is an extremely stressful and complicated job undertaken by, primarily, women. Whether one lives near the loved one or far away, the challenges and questions remain:

  • What level of care does my loved one need?
  • Can my loved one stay at home?
  • Should my loved one go to an adult day program?

While these are simple questions, finding the answers can be difficult, time consuming and involve considerable research. Deciding the type of care your loved one needs is the first step. This often depends on his or her mental and physical state more than anything else, though finances may play a significant role.

Making the Move

As a person ages, one may need assistance as he or she strives to live as independently as possible. While moving to a senior living facility or long-term nursing facility are two options, more and more older Americans seek ways to continue living within their homes and communities. Using home care, care coordination and community-based health services, such as PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for Elderly), are three ways they can accomplish this.

Going Home (Care)

Home care is great option for caregivers and their loved ones. For the older loved one, home care can create a “health” safety net, and allows the loved one to remain in his or her community and home.

And families can rest easy knowing their loved one is taken care of by a highly-skilled healthcare professional. Home care providers get extensive training, including learning about dementia and chronic conditions. Home care providers also let families know about additional community services that may be available.

Both skilled and non-skilled home care help with healing and recovery following the hospital or rehabilitation stay. Non-skilled home care can assist with errands or with housekeeping, while skilled home care can monitor prescribed medications.

Taking Care

Care coordination is especially helpful for families who live far apart and may not have the opportunity to visit the loved one frequently.

There are private-pay care coordination services overseen by a registered nurse, which include a number of important services to ensure the health and wellness of the individual. Phone calls are made to healthcare providers, appropriate resources are identified, and needs are assessed telephonically or in the home. Care coordination is long-term solution to assist individuals with ongoing concerns.

These are some services an individual may receive through care coordination:

  • Personalized healthcare recommendation;
  • Personal care and in-home support;
  • Healthcare provider appointment scheduling;
  • Person-centered dementia care and support; and
  • Respite care for family caregivers.

Stepping Out and Staying Home

PACE programs are available around the country in many communities for those who qualify for Medicare and Medicaid. These adult day programs offer medical and dental care, socialization opportunities, rehabilitation services, meals, transportation and much more. Participants live in their own homes and typically take PACE-provided transportation to the centers, which are generally open Monday through Friday.

An interdisciplinary care team assesses the individual’s needs and customizes a comprehensive care plan. The plan is implemented right in the PACE center through the in-house medical clinic, staffed by physicians and nurses. Regular re-evaluation ensures the individual always gets the care he or she needs. At the end of the day, the individual goes home.

Our responsibility as caregivers of older adults is to ensure they receive the best care in the most appropriate setting for their situation. And many times, thankfully, that “best care” allows them to be where they should: at home.

Maureen Hewitt is the President and Chief Executive Officer of InnovAge, a Denver-based provider of comprehensive healthcare services for older adults in California, Colorado and New Mexico.  Hewitt has held this role since 2006 and has led for-profit and nonprofit health care organizations for more than 25 years. Hewitt’s experience includes leading skilled nursing/sub-acute care facilities and acute care and rehabilitation hospitals, as well as serving in volunteer board positions.

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