Setting the PACE for frail older adults in the community
The integration of dentistry into comprehensive and long-term care has occurred infrequently and with limited success. The authors aim to describe how the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) has the potential for such incorporation for the growing population of nursing home–appropriate older adults preferring to age in place.
The authors used a 56-item online survey to explore aspects of oral health care within PACE, including organizational structure, availability and provision of care, preventive protocols, and provider reimbursement. The survey was distributed to all 124 programs nationally. Data analyses included descriptive statistics for each of the variables of interest.
Thirty-five programs completed the survey (28%) in 23 states (74%) where PACE is available. Most programs covered comprehensive dental services and predominantly provided care off-site. Most programs reimbursed dentists at Medicaid fee-for-service rates and some at commercial rates. Dentistry was most frequently ranked the second-highest specialty focus behind mental health.
PACE is a comprehensive interdisciplinary model of care and an underused opportunity for furthering medical-dental integration. It uses local dental resources in order to accommodate the oral health care needs of the growing population of older adults preferring to age in place.
PACE is an opportunity for the dental profession to further medical-dental integration and ensure that newer models of long-term care include comprehensive and coordinated oral health care programs. It is also an opportunity to promote an integrated model of care with policy makers to support integrated oral health care for the nursing home–eligible population.