COVID-19 Will Accelerate the PACE of Change in Long-Term Care

Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) Demonstrate Promising Model

March 16, 2021 11:01 AM EDT

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WASHINGTON, March 16, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating to older people, especially seniors with long-term care needs. Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) have proven to be an effective model of delivering long-term care in the community, even during the pandemic.

PACE programs emphasize keeping participants in their homes and independent while meeting all of their health care needs outside of a nursing home environment.

Data collected during the pandemic show that seniors enrolled in PACE contracted COVD-19 at just one-third the rate of those in nursing homes. Part of the success of the PACE model of care has been the ability to deliver needed care and services in various settings in response to the pandemic, including the participant's home. 

"Traditionally, the core of the PACE model has been a team of providers working together primarily in the PACE center," said Jim Pedulla, MD, medical director of Neighborhood PACE in East Boston and chair of the National PACE Association (NPA) Primary Care Committee. "We discovered that while the PACE center is important and valuable, the PACE interdisciplinary team is what makes the PACE model of care so effective." 

During the pandemic, he said, "team members of all disciplines and roles galvanized to protect our participants, redirecting core services to them in their homes while they remained isolated for their safety. More personal care was delivered in the home, and more medical, nursing and rehabilitation services were brought to the participant. Team members conducted wellness checks of participants via audio and video visits to monitor their status and the impact on their daily living."

PACE serves individuals age 55 and over who are certified to need nursing home care but are able to live in the community with the support of PACE. 

"When someone enrolls in PACE, it is usually for life," Dr. Pedulla said. "When you work with people who need long-term care each day, the relationship you build is important. You know over time you are going to experience a lot of significant moments with them."

The pandemic certainly has posed many such moments. PACE teams have been innovative in providing support for participants who were displaced from their relationships, lost access to their families, and faced significant losses.

PACE organizations are financially responsible for emergency room visits, hospital stays and nursing home placements. This responsibility provides financial incentives that align with their care goals of keeping participants living independently in the community as long as possible. Despite all PACE participants meeting the requirements for nursing home care, only 5 percent reside in a nursing home.

"Increasingly, people are asking what we can do to make long-term care better in the future," said Shawn Bloom, president and CEO of the National PACE Association. "I encourage them to look at the success of PACE. Care costs less, and quality of life is higher in the community. PACE is organized around keeping people in the community and as independent as possible for as long as possible."

A total of 138 organizations operate PACE programs in 30 states across the country, serving more than 55,000 people. The PACE model demonstrates its effectiveness in a number of ways: 

  • Saving state money, with PACE costing 13 percent less than other state Medicaid long-term care options;
  • Reducing hospital admissions, with 24 percent fewer than dually eligible beneficiaries who receive Medicaid nursing home services;
  • Reducing ER visits, on average, to less than one visit per participant each year;
  • Reducing nursing home admissions, with fewer than 5 percent of PACE participants being admitted; and 
  • Supporting family caregivers, resulting in a 97.5 percent satisfaction rate. 

To learn more about PACE and if a PACE program operates in your community, visit the National PACE Association website at

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SOURCE National PACE Association

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