The Department of Human Services is working to give people resources on the community-based programs offered as an alternative to nursing home care.

Michelle Gayette, the assistant director of the Adult and Aging Services Division for Human Services, says the goal is to connect individuals to services so seniors can stay in their homes and communities longer.

Human Services has been conducting webinars to reach that goal and let seniors know they’re not on their own and that someone cares for them.

“Until people need something, something happens in their life, something happens and they end up in the doctors or hospital, until they need something they don’t start researching what’s available, so we really want to be proactive,” said Gayette.

She says the isolation caused by COVID has only increased the desire for more person-to-person interactions and connections.

To give them that one-on-one connection, if clients are eligible, the Program for All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (also referred to as PACE) can be used as a referral from Human Services.

To be eligible for this program, you must be at least 55 years old, live in a current PACE service area and be able to live safely in your community with PACE support at the time of your enrollment, according to North Dakota PACE Program Administrator Annette Fischer.

With four locations across North Dakota, PACE stands out because they take care of all healthcare needs, have no limitations and provide transportation services Fischer says.

“When I ask participants what they like about PACE, they love the help with transportation, they love that they are just able to ask the nurse or the aid that is there with them and they can get answers to whatever their healthcare needs are, just someone to help them coordinate,” Fischer said.

The program is funded federally and by Medicaid, making it friendly to access for those who may be considered less fortunate.