Earlier this year when the restrictions placed on the city of New Orleans as a result of COVID-19 PACE, a NOLA-area comprehensive healthcare program, shifted its community servicing of senior citizens exclusively to in-home and virtual services, as reported in a NOLA.com profile.
The staff members of PACE were reportedly ready to adapt quickly in order for there not to be any lapses in service for a New Orleans demographic that is particularly susceptible to the effects of the pandemic. Pivoting to the new normal, PACE was still able to offer the greater area of New Orlerans’s citizens care of a physician, including medication offering, rehabilitative therapy, personal care services, transportation to and from health care offices as well as nutrition counseling, and the vital service of meal delivery.
PACE is an affiliated Ministry of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans program that aims to promote the independence, health, and dignity of the senior citizens of New Orleans. The comprehensive healthcare program includes services such as Adult Day Health Centers, both primary and specialty physician care, medications, rehabilitative therapy, and personal care services as well as transportation. PACE GNO’s mission statement is to “ enable frail older adults to live in their homes and in the community as long as medically and socially feasible.”
When asked to comment on her colleagues’ ability to pivot their operations to continue to service senior citizens, PACE occupational therapist, Trisha Ventura told nola.com, that the entire model of PACE is based in “flexibility and individualized care.” “Our executive director always says we are not a cookie-cutter service. We’re constantly adapting and changing, so it has not been a tremendously difficult transition for us.”
It is this attention to individualized care that keeps PACE in such high standing in New Orleans’s eyes, so it came a shock when they needed to shift to all in-home and virtual care, as previous PACE-offered services took place at the organization’s group facilities, but now services are shifted to participants’ homes, bringing an entirely new meaning to the “individualized care” previously mentioned.
For participants who signed up for the all-too-vital meal delivery service, meals are being distributed four days a week, meaning not only do individuals have guaranteed meals delivered to them several times a week, they also have someone check up on them and their home environment, a privilege that shouldn’t go unlooked and is not taken for granted by participants. Registered dietitians with PACE use this as an opportunity to continue making connections with members but also bring observed health or home concerns to a larger team for deliberation, and they are regularly receiving appreciation for having visited during such impersonal times.
Meal delivery isn’t the only service that was flexible in pivoting to in-home care, as physical therapists, occupational therapists and nursing assistants can now also make home visits. This is done both in person, but for recreational therapists, they will be hosting virtual classes, such as tai chi and memory games via Zoom, instead of in-person group classes. In addition to physical and mental exercise, participants’ spiritual needs are being catered to as a Chaplain provides a pastoral ministry at least once a week while also leading prayers on Zoom and talking and praying with individuals via phone call.
The lead PACE social worker, Joanne Ault is an advocate for the virtual shift of the organization, commenting that the “virtual classes have actually increased socialization because they are able to see other participants in the Zoom meeting.”
If interested in learning more information on PACE services, the organization invites you to visit www.pacegno.org or call 504-835-0006.
For more Louisiana related articles, click here.