Isolation can be difficult for people of all ages. This is especially true for people who live alone and depend on regular group activities for socialization, such as older adults.

In Pinellas County, Suncoast PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) is a member of Empath Health and also offers participants access to in-home care, primary care, therapies and transportation to other approved care providers. The Suncoast PACE Day Center offers this much needed social and emotional support to program participants, as well as meals and medical care.

“Social isolation can have severe effects on the mental and physical wellbeing of everyone, especially seniors, since they are often not as technologically connected as the younger generations,” explains Carla Creegan, RN, MSN, CHPN, PACE center manager.

As social distancing has become the new normal in efforts to protect the most vulnerable members of our communities against the COVID-19 pandemic, Suncoast PACE has had to find new solutions to continue needed services for participants while they are at home and unable to physically visit the center.

To ensure the safety and care of participants, home health aides are available to assist with medications that would normally be managed at the center, as well as provide support to any caregiver that may need extra help during this time. Participants also receive shelf-stable supplementary food items like fruit cups, granola bars and bread.

Suncoast PACE staff packages food items for participants

The second part of services during distancing includes the delivery of “socialization kits.” These kits contain at home versions of activities that might have been enjoyed at the Day Center, such as word games, puzzles and arts and crafts.

Program assistants from the center also have access to an aromatherapy kit that can be brought to the home to help reduce feelings of anxiety or agitation. Other participants enjoy spiritual and reminiscing activities. Assistants might spend time reading and reminiscing with them during their visit.

“We also thought about games, like dominoes and cards, the program assistants can play with them and leave behind for use later,” adds Creegan. “Some of our participants enjoy having their nails and hair done and we can provide this as well.”

There are still many uncertainties ahead in this challenging time, but ensuring participants feel connected and continue to receive the medical support they need remains a priority. Until the need for social distancing ends, Suncoast PACE will continue to find new ways to provide a sense of community for seniors.

To Those We Serve:

Empath Health is dedicated to protecting the safety of our patients, employees, volunteers and care partners. Learn more about how we are addressing COVID-19 concerns.