PACE stands for Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, and the National Association has proclaimed September as National PACE Month as an opportunity to celebrate the work of the programs.

This year's theme of "PACE: Many Hands, Many Minds, One Goal" highlights the central role of the PACE interdisciplinary team in improving the lives of participants and their family caregivers.

Cherokee Elder Care is a PACE organization that has served Cherokee County and surrounding areas for 11 years. A total of 129 PACE programs serve more than 50,000 enrollees in 31 states. PACE enrollees are age 55 and over, and need a nursing home level of care. However, more than 95 percent are able to live in the community with the services and support they receive through PACE.

Cherokee Elder Care will celebrate this month with a PACE Spirit Week, Sept. 23-27. The fun days include Hat Day, Favorite Sports Team Day, Crazy Sock Day, Patriot Day, and Wild West Day.

"The PACE interdisciplinary team is one thing that really sets PACE apart from other care delivery models," said Connie Davis, executive director. "So often, individuals and families who have health care needs experience a fractured, hard-to-navigate health care system. PACE is just the opposite. In PACE, the interdisciplinary team members work together to develop effective care plans and solve problems that PACE participants are experiencing. We have had so many enrollees and their families tell us how PACE has impacted their life."

The interdisciplinary team includes a registered nurse, recreation therapist, dietitian, occupational therapist, PACE center manager, home care coordinator, personal care attendant, transportation specialist, primary care provider, social worker and physical therapist, as well as other specialists such as a behavioral health therapist or pharmacist.

More than 95 percent of PACE participants live in the community. A recent study of PACE family caregivers found that 96.6 percent of family members are satisfied with the support they receive through PACE, and 97.5 percent of family caregivers would recommend PACE to someone in a similar situation.

"In May, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released an updated PACE regulation to help PACE grow faster and serve even more people at risk of nursing home placement," said Shawn Bloom, president and CEO of the National PACE Association.

For more information, contact Cherokee Elder Care at 918-453-5554 or visit eldercare.cherokee.org.

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