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Health CarePACE Keeps Seniors Safer Than Nursing Homes During COVID-19 | News | #healthcare | #elderly | #seniors

PACE Keeps Seniors Safer Than Nursing Homes During COVID-19 | News | #healthcare | #elderly | #seniors


SAN FRANCISCO, March 30, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Participants enrolled in Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) are at one-third the risk of nursing home residents for contracting COVID-19, according to the National PACE Association (NPA). *

PACE programs, which help seniors age in their homes and communities, provide medical, social, transportation and home care services. Currently, 139 PACE programs across the country, serve 55,000 participants in 30 states. On Lok, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that has served Bay Area seniors for 50 years, founded the PACE model of care and through On Lok PACE, today supports 1,650 eligible seniors in San Francisco, Santa Clara County, and the Tri-City area of Alameda County.

Even prior to the pandemic, PACE has proven to be a safer and more cost-effective way for seniors to remain in their homes, achieving better care, improving patient experience, and lowering out-of-pocket costs for participants, with no Medicare or Medicaid deductibles or copayment. This includes:

  • Reduced hospital admission: 24% lower hospitalization rate than dually eligible beneficiaries who receive Medicaid nursing home services I, II
  • Reduced ER visits: less than one emergency room visit per member per year than similar individuals living in the community IV, V
  • Fewer nursing home admissions: despite being at nursing home level of care than those with similar care needs VI
  • Fewer unmet needs and better preventive care, specifically with respect to hearing and vision screenings than seniors in the community VII

On Lok PACE continues to innovate on the model it created three decades ago and adapt services during COVID-19 to meet participants’ needs safely. This includes efforts to protect seniors and care teams from the threat of COVID-19 by offering staff and participants vaccines.

“At its heart, the PACE model of care is about keeping seniors living at home, safely. Never before has this been more critical, than during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Eileen Kunz, Chief of Government Affairs & Compliance at On Lok, and Chairman of the Board for CalPACE. “Over the past year, On Lok PACE and other programs have quickly adapted by offering more in-home and virtual services to keep participants safe, supported, and connected to others.”

On Lok PACE program changes during COVID-19 include:

  • Shift from center-based to home-based. On Lok PACE deployed an interdisciplinary care team to deliver medical care through its primary care providers, while its network of specialists, professional caregivers, and home-care staff, provided services for daily living in the home.
  • Social support. On Lok PACE Activities staff kept participants engaged and socially connected with a variety of virtual classes, home-based exercise sessions, dance, music, games, and more. The team also regularly contacted participants by phone, distributed care packages and conducted spiritual checks.
  • Expanded use of telehealth.  Prior to COVID-19, On Lok successfully implemented telehealth services to help participants overcome challenges to care access, including distance and inconvenience, and saw the use of telehealth grow during the initial months of the pandemic.
  • Meal delivery and transportation. On Lok PACE provided door-to-door transportation to medical appointments, and increased home-delivered meals services.

About On Lok

On Lok is a nonprofit organization that empowers older adults to age with dignity and independence. With nearly 50 years of experience, On Lok is a trusted resource in San Francisco, Santa Clara County, and the Tri-City area of Alameda County. On Lok founded and still operates the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), which allows eligible seniors to live at home for as long as possible by providing comprehensive medical care and social services. On Lok 30th Street Senior Center, the largest multipurpose senior center in San Francisco, provides a second home, health programs, activities, and case management services to active seniors. The On Lok Mission Nutrition Program provides more than 200,000 meals annually to seniors through its dining locations and meal delivery program. For more information, please visit


NPA member organization data reporting period 1/4/2021 and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services COVID-19 nursing home data week ending 1/3/2021.


NPA Analysis of PACE Upper Payment Limits and Capitation Rates, March 2017.


Mathematica Policy Research. (2014). Effect of PACE on Costs, Nursing Home Admissions and Mortality: 2006-2011. Evaluation prepared for U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Office of Disability, Aging and Long-Term Care Policy.


Segelman, M., Szydlowski, J., Kinosian, B., et al. (2014). Hospitalizations in the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 62: 320-24.


Division of Health Care Finance and Policy, Executive Office of Elder Affairs. (2005). PACE Evaluation Summary. Accessed online on May 25, 2011.


Kane, R.L., Homyak, P., Bershadsky, B., et al. (2006). Variations on a theme called PACE. Journal of Gerontology Series A, 61 (7): 689-93.


Friedman, S., Steinwachs, D., Rathouz, P., et al. (2005). Characteristics predicting nursing home admission in the Program of All-Inclusive Care for Elderly People. Gerontologist (2009). 45 (2): 157-66.


Leavitt, M. (2009). Interim report to Congress: The Quality and Cost of the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly. Mathematica Policy Research evaluation prepared for the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for submission to Congress.


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