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According to a recent study, more than 90% of seniors surveyed indicated a desire to remain in their own home rather than moving to a nursing home or assisted living facility. And a wealth of studies confirm that a senior’s ability to remain in familiar surroundings can enhance their level of comfort, independence and health. However, while aging in one’s home and local community is often the preferable option, it’s not always possible for medical or safety reasons.
Until the August 2011 introduction of Inspira’s LIFE Program, that is.
"Inspira LIFE, or Living Independently for Elders, is a PACE (Programs of All- Inclusive Care for the Elderly) organization sponsored by Inspira Health, a system comprising three hospitals and more than 150 access points throughout South Jersey,” said Jill Viggiano, executive director of Inspira LIFE. “PACE is a model of care centered on the belief that it’s better for the well-being of seniors with chronic care needs and their families to be served in the community whenever possible.”
According to Viggiano, PACE programs such as LIFE serve individuals age 55 and older who are certified by their state to need nursing home care, are able to live safely in the community at the time of enrollment, and live in a PACE service area. “Inspira LIFE serves all of Cumberland County and portions of Salem and Gloucester counties, with plans to serve the entirety of Salem and Gloucester counties by late 2020,” she said, adding that most services are provided at the LIFE Center at 2445 S. Delsea Drive in Vineland, with a second center planned to serve the expansion into Gloucester and Salem counties.
As part of the program, “Inspira LIFE provides the entire continuum of care and services to seniors with chronic care needs while helping them maintain their independence in their home for as long as possible,” Viggiano said. “Caring for participants through end of life, the PACE Center offers an adult day care setting for socialization, meals and recreation, with the addition of nursing, physical, occupational and recreational therapies, nutritional counseling, social work, personal care and medical care provided by Inspira LIFE geriatricians and nurse practitioners who are experts in the care of seniors and familiar with the history, needs and preferences of each participant.”
Among its other services, Inspira LIFE assesses and follows up on each participant’s unique needs, including home health care and personal care, prescription drugs, social services, respite care and medical specialties such as audiology, dentistry, optometry, podiatry and speech therapy. “The program also provides transportation to and from the center, medical appointments and social outings as well as the hospital and/or nursing home when necessary,” Viggiano said.
“Inspira LIFE has over 280 participants, with new seniors enrolling each month,” said Viggiano, who noted that the benefits of the program have been visible.
“While all of our participants are clinically eligible for nursing home placement, 92% of them live in the community,” she said. “We’ve seen low emergency room, hospitalization and re-hospitalization rates due to the wraparound services of a diverse interdisciplinary team, which include access to a nurse on call whenever the center is closed. Our participants also benefit from high rates of immunization for flu and pneumonia and report a great deal of satisfaction in the program.” And thanks to a recent partnership with Inspira’s Fitness Connection, participants can now access private exercise sessions through the Physician Referred Exercise Program (PREP), a 90-day program that incorporates physician recommendations with the experience of a medical exercise specialist.
“Our hope is that Inspira LIFE helps our community’s seniors remain in their homes and community for as long as possible, promoting their independence and quality of life,” Viggiano concluded of the beneficial program. “We hope that families who need that extra bit of support and assistance to keep an aging loved one at home will contact us to see if Inspira LIFE can partner with them in accomplishing that goal.”