LIFE CIRCLE’S PLAN TO HELP SOLVE THE CRISIS IN ELDER SERVICES IN SANTA FE INVOLVES SIX STEPS:
1. Facilitate an Age-Friendly Community Assessment based on the World Health Organization’s model endorsed by AARP. Life Circle would work with the City of Santa Fe to join a network of Age-Friendly Communities around the country.
This is a first step: As part of the assessment, local elected leaders commit to actively work to make Santa Fe a great place for people of all ages. Becoming an Age-Friendly Community is a years-long process. In New Mexico, two cities are working toward Age-Friendly status: Carlsbad has completed a development plan and Albuquerque is in process.
2. Offer a program based on Elders in Action in Portland, OR with four main components:
- The Personal Advocate provides volunteers who work with older adults facing a life difficulty, and who help the elders find solutions.
- Community Engagement, whereby volunteers reach out to older adults, civic groups, businesses and non-profit organizations to educate them about critical aging issues and the available services.
- The Commission – Citizens Advisory Board is a volunteer-led advocacy group advising city, county and state government on issues important to older adults.
- Age-Friendly Business is a network of businesses and organizations committed to building a truly Age-Friendly community.
3. Provide Adult Day (Care) Service. An adult day center would provide a safe, supportive environment for older adults who need assistance with independent living, including stimulating social activities. Such a service could allow families to care for adults at home, while wage earners continue working during the day. When the former adult day care service, Open Hands, closed in 2012, Santa Fe lost this essential service.
4. Offer Home Safety Assessment and Modification. Unintentional falls are the leading cause of (unintentional) injury and death among adults 65 years and older, and Santa Fe has a higher-than-average rate of accidents at home.
5. Build a Green House project. Green Houses offer comfort, compassion, independence, dignity, healing and person-centered long-term services to elders, providing licensed, skilled-nursing services with a transformational “home-like” feel, in contrast to the institutional warehousing model. Homes are clustered together, sharing services, with 10 – 12 residents per home. Each person living in the home has a private bedroom and bath opening to a central living area, open full kitchen and dinning room.
Life Circle proposes building five to six homes providing 60 skilled nursing beds. There are currently two institutional skilled-nursing homes in Santa Fe: Santa Fe Cares, which has 120 beds, and Casa Real, which has 118 beds. Both accept Medicaid and Medicare. The Green House project would also be certified to accept Medicaid and Medicare.
6. Create an In-Patient Hospice Facility. This is needed for terminally ill patients who do not have enough family support at home to provide the needed round-the-clock care at the end of life. It would also provide care for those who have no family and those whose family can no longer manage the care at home. There would be an additional hospice home included as part of the Green House Project campus.