When it became clear that 90-year-old Mei could no longer live safely by herself, her six children gathered for a family meeting to discuss options with her. After months of careful consideration, Mei decided that she wanted to stay with family and not move into a health care facility. As her health started to decline, Mei’s three-generation family all took part in caring for her around the clock, making sure every area of her life had attention and support including her doctor visits, medication, sleeping schedule, diet, fun activities, social life and transportation needs. With strong family support and help from various healthcare professionals, Mei enjoyed her last days at home before passing peacefully a decade later.
Unfortunately not every API senior shares the same experience as Mei. Many lack the language ability or resources to access necessary care. Family caregivers struggle to navigate the complicated and costly health care system, resulting in tremendous stress and burdens. Seniors have no choice but to move into an institutional care setting, away from family and the familiar community in which they built their whole lives.
New partnership to create an innovative solution
While the cost of health care and housing skyrockets in our neighborhoods, two organizations remain dedicated to providing affordable and accessible supportive care for the elderly in Asian and Pacific Islander communities. International Community Health Services (ICHS) and Kin On Health Care Center (Kin On) have recently partnered to develop a new program, offering well-coordinated, wraparound services for elders to age in place.
ICHS CEO Teresita Batayola said, “This partnership will demonstrate what two major health care organizations serving the API population can achieve when they put their combined energies behind a marvelous idea whose time has come.”
Incorporated in 2015, the new not-for-profit organization called Aging in PACE Washington (AiPACE) aims to develop a culturally appropriate Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) – a nationally recognized health care model that fosters independence and choice for nursing home eligible seniors to age at home. Currently, a similar program is being piloted through ICHS PACE at Legacy House, which is expected to reach capacity in a few years.
Campaign to redefine aging for future generations
Earlier in 2019, AiPACE announced a $20 million capital campaign to construct a new adult day health center – a key component of the PACE model. The new facility will be built in the north parking lot of Pacific Hospital, located in North Beacon Hill. The 25,000 square-foot facility is anticipated to be completed in 2021 to 2022 and will be part of a larger development including multifamily housing and a child care center. The AiPACE facility aims to serve over 400 eligible seniors, adding much needed capacity to address the growing demand for community-based senior care.
The Washington State Legislature has already appropriated $4.5 million to support the construction. “Our state legislators have made an important investment in our future,” said Ron Chew, ICHS Foundation director. “With AiPACE we can begin to create a more vibrant model of care for seniors.” Chew said AiPACE will be approaching the City of Seattle and King County for additional funding support.
The building is also part of an effort to preserve the neighborhood by making sure that services and housing is accessible to those living in the Beacon Hill neighborhood and close-by neighborhoods like Chinatown-International District. “There’s this sense of preserving the ethnic core of our neighborhood and keeping the Asian community here in a place where they call home,” said Heidi Wong, capital campaign manager for AiPACE. “As new developers are coming in and raising the prices of everything, there’s always the fear that it will displace people. I think having affordable housing and affordable senior services here continues to keep our community accessible and affordable for our neighborhood.”
With the implementation of programs like AiPACE, the elderly community will be able to feel more at ease when they receive personalized care that maintains their place of honor with family and friends. Martha Choe, former chief administrative officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said she was excited to join the capital campaign steering committee. “For me, it’s a way to recognize that as we all age, it’s important to be supported in the choice to remain home in our community,” she said.
“Imagine having a team of professional health care experts to help you coordinate all your physical, emotional and social needs, so that you can be worry-free to enjoy life, learn a new hobby, connect with friends and maximize quality time with family, while remaining close to the community that you know and love throughout your entire retirement life,” said Wong, “who wouldn’t want that!”