LIFE (Living Independently For Elders) – Improving The Lives of Seniors
There are more than 118 PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, www.npaonline.org) programs throughout the United States. One might be right for you or your loved one!
Saint Francis LIFE – Improving the Lives of New Castle County Seniors
When Saint Francis LIFE opened on the Wilmington Riverfront nearly three years ago, it promised to change lives. Although more than 118 PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, www.npaonline.org) programs exist throughout the United States, Saint Francis LIFE is the only PACE program in Delaware. PACE is designed to help seniors live safely in their home, with assistance from a team of compassionate healthcare experts. Join us as we revisit this impressive 27,000- square-foot facility and the team in the LIFE Center on the Riverfront to see how LIFE is living up to its promise of “helping our seniors live a better life.”
Vital: What is Saint Francis LIFE?
Saint Francis LIFE: LIFE (Living Independently For Elders) provides person-centered services that enable seniors to achieve their optimal quality of life. The beauty of the program is that seniors remain living in their own home and LIFE provides complete medical, spiritual, social and recreational services in one central location at the LIFE Center, as well as in their homes. Our focus is on achieving a maximum level of physical, social and cognitive function in seniors who have health problems that limit their daily activities.
At the LIFE Center, our primary care team, consisting of a doctor, nurse practitioners, nurses and other healthcare professionals, monitor participants’ health and provide comprehensive medical and nursing care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, nutritional services, social work support and spiritual care. We have a fully functioning health center for primary care with treatment rooms and a lab, as well as rehabilitation center. Specialty care is provided by a network of more than 60 specialty physicians in the community. We even take care of scheduling and transporting our participants to these appointments.
We also have an Adult Day Program. Participants tell us they particularly enjoy the daily recreational activities offered because they’re able to get the social interaction that seniors often miss. Nutritionally balanced meals are provided daily. Participants can also partake in a variety of activities that enable them to explore new hobbies, meet new people, and engage their minds and bodies to help them stay alert and active. A beautiful chapel is also part of the LIFE Center, and our Chaplain offers spiritual counseling to participants who request this.
Vital: What makes LIFE different from other therapy and senior facilities?
Saint Francis LIFE: The difference in our approach is immediately noticeable. All of our team members – our primary care team, social workers, physical and occupational therapists, Day Center manager, recreational coordinator, dietician and chaplain – meet with prospective participants to understand their needs, assess their goals, and determine how LIFE can best help each person to achieve these goals and remain living independently in their own homes. The team develops an individualized care plan for each person with the input of the participant and their caregiver or family member. The purpose of LIFE is to provide the assistance and services our elderly need to continue to live independently. Every person is considered individually; every participant’s plan is different. Plans are tailored to meet an individual’s specific needs and goals, to monitor their progress, and to provide whatever support is needed. Some participants simply need to be in a social setting along with some minimal support and standard healthcare. Others may require more intensive services, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy and assistance in the home, to meet their goals. It all depends on the person’s needs.
Vital: How many participants do you currently have at the LIFE Center?
Saint Francis LIFE: We currently have 177 participants and are steadily growing. While we have the capacity to provide our services to 250 seniors at the Riverfront location, we’ve found that since we are “full-service” when assisting our enrollees, it does require a fair amount of time to complete the enrollment forms and obtain approvals. We make sure that we do the work required, so that enrolling at the LIFE Center is simple.
Remember that our main objective is to constantly keep the focus on the individual and his or her needs. We’re actively engaged in each and every person’s progress, therapy, well-being and care. We pride ourselves on taking the time to get to know each participant. Our satisfaction comes from assisting our participants to overcome any challenges they encounter, whether at the LIFE Center or in their homes, celebrating victories large and small.
Vital: Is LIFE available to all seniors?
Saint Francis LIFE: LIFE serves individuals who are 55 or older; live in the service area within New Castle County, Delaware; are certified by the state at a level of nursing facility care; and can live safely at home with the support of the LIFE teams.
Of course, Saint Francis LIFE does not discriminate in the delivery of services based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, mental or physical disabilities or on source of payment.
Our service area includes the following ZIP codes in New Castle County:
*Serving only the portion of the ZIP codes located within New Castle County.
Vital: How do seniors enroll in the LIFE program?
Saint Francis LIFE: We try to make the enrollment process as easy as possible. People who are interested in Saint Francis LIFE can call us at 302-660-3351 and speak with our Enrollment Specialist, who will meet with an applicant and, if they choose, a family member or caregiver, at their home to explain the program. Next, we’ll schedule an in-home assessment with a nurse, and a visit to the LIFE Center to meet with our team to receive an evaluation and develop a plan of care. We’ll get input from the applicant to understand his or her goals and listen to any concerns. The Enrollment Specialist will then review the plan of care and all enrollment paperwork with the applicant and his or her family member(s) or caregiver(s). Enrollment is voluntary and can be cancelled at any time by notifying the LIFE Enrollment Specialist.
For more information about Saint Francis LIFE or to schedule a meeting with an Enrollment Specialist, call us at 302-660-3351 or visit our website at www.SaintFrancisHealthcare.org. Currently, there are 118 PACE programs in 32 states. Find one near you! See more at www.npaonline.org.
The Social Network for Seniors.
Diane Roberts has always been a firm believer in the value of a powerful mind. “If you have a good, strong mind, you can put a lot of other things into action,” she says with her trademark smile. As a participant at Saint Francis LIFE on the Wilmington Riverfront since 2013, she credits a lot of the positive changes she’s recently made to the program.
“When I first came to the LIFE Center, I jumped right in. I had an open mind and an open mouth,” says Ms. Roberts. “I love to tell stories and listen to what other participants have to say. And there’s no shortage of stories here at LIFE.”
As the mother of seven children, she found herself in a situation many seniors face as they age. Her children had grown, moved out and started their own families. Her once full house was now quiet and sometimes lonely. Her options for socializing had decreased and her health had also begun to decline. She was diagnosed with diabetes and needed more frequent doctors’ visits but this was not easy because Ms. Roberts doesn’t drive. She relied on the bus for transportation but she had to cross a highway to get to the bus stop. It was an unsafe and lonesome situation.
After viewing a presentation about the Saint Francis LIFE Center at her senior citizen residence, Ms. Roberts was intrigued by the amount of services she could receive, as well as the number of activities offered at the center. The LIFE team worked closely with Ms. Roberts to enroll her in the program, assess her medical and social needs, and teach her how to control her diabetes. The LIFE Center was there to provide the help that Ms. Roberts needed, which included arranging all medical check-ups and treatments, providing all of her prescriptions, and organizing transportation to medical appointments and the facility. “The LIFE Center has made my life so much better. I feel like they take care of all my needs,” says Ms. Roberts.
Social activity and interaction are important parts of the experience at the LIFE Center. Because seniors may be more susceptible to isolation and loneliness than younger counterparts, maintaining and establishing new social interactions is critical. Research shows that an active social lifestyle plays an important part in enabling seniors to maintain a sharp mind and stay happy and healthy. Plus, having consistent interaction with people can reduce depression and memory loss. The many activities at LIFE, such as field trips, games, lessons and large-scale events, help keep our participants’ imaginations active.
“What I like most is the range of activities that take place here. There’s always something happening to keep me thinking, talking and trying new things. We have sewing classes, wreath making and even computer classes. But sometimes other participants and I just make things happen. There’s no shortage of things to do at the LIFE Center. We’re busy all the time!” notes Ms. Roberts.
The LIFE Center also provides meals in a communal, bright dining area. Some seniors living on their own may not get the proper nutrition they need and healthy eating habits may be difficult to maintain. At LIFE, our participants enjoy nourishing meals at the Center while enjoying the social aspects that come with sharing meals with friends.
“When my children became adults, I realized it was my time,” says an enthusiastic Ms. Roberts. “And the LIFE Center has been incredible. I’ve always been an avid history buff and have enjoyed going to new places. I get to experience that here by talking to others and joining in on the activities. I learn about other people’s lives and experiences. I hear their stories and enjoy learning more. I came here with an open mind. And I truly believe that I now have a stronger body and mind thanks to the LIFE Center.”
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