For those of us fortunate enough to still have grandparents with us, seeing them often just isn’t possible. For most, just spending time with our grandparents on National Grandparents Day would be a treat. Ashanti Sullivan, manager of GHS Senior Care, knows the joy of not only seeing a grandparent weekly but knowing firsthand that her loved one is getting the care and services she needs to remain living at home and in her own community.
Ashanti’s maternal grandmother, Eddie Parrott, participates in GHS Senior Care, an innovative program designed to provide coordinated medical care to the elderly. What makes GHS Senior Care unique is its utilization of the PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) model. Designed for adults 55 or older who qualify for a nursing home level of care, PACE participants benefit from a team of providers that offer all the necessary health, medical and supportive services needed to remain in their homes and avoid more costly levels of care. The program has a strong wellness component and provides caregivers with much needed respite.
PACE, which was started by caretakers in the 70’s in San Francisco, currently serves more than 42,000 seniors in 239 centers nationwide. GHS Senior Care, the Upstate’s only PACE center to date, opened in May of 2016. Located at 32 Centennial Way off Grove Road in Greenville, the 20,000-square feet building provides a retreat-like setting for its participants. The seniors in the program typically come to the center two to three times a week for services and socialization, allowing staff to keep an eye on how they’re doing and fine-tune their care.
After working at GHS Senior Care for a year, and seeing the difference it made for those in the program, Ashanti decided to get her grandmother involved. “She was a bit hesitant at first,” admits Ashanti. Her grandmother, who had worked as a nurse’s aide in the newborn nursery at the former Greenville General Hospital, had been living alone since her daughter passed and was not very outgoing. She also had challenges getting around. “I noticed she was becoming more isolated and knew that I would not be able to care for her much longer without some type of assistance,” said Ashanti. “GHS Senior Care was the perfect fit.”
Kimberlin Delvalle, a front desk representative at GHS Senior Care, also had a grandmother in the program, Maglean Hammond, who passed away in August. “My grandmother was the type of person who always spent her time taking care of others and making sure their needs were met, so I felt good having found a program that took such good care of her,” she said. Thanks in part to GHS Senior Care, the grandmother of 11 and great-grandmother of 22, was able to pass exactly the way she wanted to – peacefully in her own home.
At GHS Senior Care, the continuous support from an integrated team of medical professionals is what makes the program different from every other long-term care option and so successful in helping seniors remain healthy and independent. The program is considered all-inclusive because it covers just about any need you could think of when it comes to senior care including primary care, social services, nutritional counseling, home care, day center supervision, prescription drugs, lab work, X-ray services, vision and dentistry. Before enrollment, potential participants meet with the entire care team to develop an individual plan of care. A home assessment is included to see what changes, such as the installation of grab bars in the bathroom, or the addition of a shower chair, are needed to keep participants safe.
Transportation in the center’s own vans is provided not only for the days participants spend at the center but to all approved appointments. The drivers, as is the case with the rest of the staff, become like family to the participants. Kimberlin recalls that her grandmother enjoyed her time traveling to and from the center; allowing her to add a bit of sightseeing to her day. Not only did the program take care of her grandmother’s medical needs, but it brightened her days.
Ashanti says that her grandmother particularly enjoys learning to make healthy meals, the performers that come to the center, and spending time with the physical therapist in the onsite gym. “She has noticed a significant improvement in her posture, which has alleviated some of her back pain,” said Ashanti. Her grandmother also appreciates the home health care services provided by GHS Senior Care that assist her with daily activities such as shopping, meal preparation and household chores and providing her with some companionship at the same time.
The program has been successful in achieving dramatic results. According to the National PACE Association, participation in a PACE program like GHS Senior Care reduces hospital stays and emergency department visits, improves overall health status, lowers mortality rates and enhances overall well-being. Although enrollees qualify for nursing home care, PACE programs are successful in keeping 93 percent of its participants in the community; avoiding costly residential care costs.
Ashanti says her grandmother has lived in her own home for 50 years, and has made it clear she wants to remain there. “It’s my duty to honor her wishes, and with GHS Senior Care, I know I can make this happen.” In the meantime, she’s been quite surprised and pleased by the transformation she has seen in her grandmother since she started coming to GHS Senior Care. “She is quite picky about the company she keeps, but she has made friends with two little ladies who come to the center. They whisper and laugh like high school girls,” she said. “It makes me happy to see her so happy again!”
GHS Senior Care is holding a community open house on Thursday, October 26, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. To attend, please R.S.V.P. to Kim Delvalle at (864) 522-1950 or KDelvalle@ghs.org. For a tour, community presentation or more information about GHS Senior Care, please contact the blog’s author, Kathleen Stevens, Community Engagement Coordinator, at (864) 522-1950 or KStevens2@ghs.org.