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Even a Pandemic Won’t Stop Saint Francis LIFE

They’ve been hard at work all year, and the fruits of their labors will soon be apparent. Saint Francis LIFE is excited to announce it’s going to be opening “College Avenue” in Newark shortly, expanding its services to support seniors living safely at home throughout New Castle County.

With the start of the new year, it’s hard to believe that we are still in the midst of a pandemic. Everyone is anxious for life to return to “normal.”  For the time being, however, home is still the safest place to be, especially for older adults with underlying health conditions.

Pandemic or not, Saint Francis LIFE understands how important it is to seniors to remain safe, healthy and independent. A Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), LIFE’s comprehensive medical care and social supports are vital to many older adults’ ability to safely continue living in their own homes in the community.

In order to expand its all-inclusive services to help more seniors, the LIFE program is opening a second Saint Francis LIFE center in Newark this winter. Located on Route 896, the new location, called “College Avenue,” will serve 250 seniors. Along with LIFE’s original Wilmington Riverfront Center, the program will now be able to support at least 500 New Castle County seniors.

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The Saint Francis LIFE College Avenue Center will offer the same patient-oriented services as those provided at the Wilmington Riverfront site. Each program participant will have his or her own dedicated team of health care professionals and a personalized care plan, complete with medical care and services developed to keep them safe at home.

“We’re very excited to be opening our new center,” says Saint Francis LIFE Executive Director Amy L. Milligan, who has led the program since its inception eight years ago. “This site will grow our ability to support seniors living in the southern part of the county.”

Similar to the Wilmington location, the Newark location’s services will include:

A Primary Care Health Center, plus Specialty Care. LIFE’s geriatric primary care providers and nurses are specially trained to care for older adults and only treat participants in the LIFE program, which allows highly personalized care. “The health and safety of our patients is our top priority,” says LIFE Medical Director Paul Eberts, MD. “During the pandemic, we’ve been caring for our patients onsite in our Health Center, at specialists’ offices in the community, and at home in person and by telehealth. LIFE participants can reach us any time, day or night.”

Weekly Check-ins and Social Services. The LIFE team checks in with participants weekly to screen for symptoms of illness and make sure they are safe. Prescribed medications and medical supplies are delivered directly to people’s homes, and social workers can even help participants access community resources for nutrition and assist with online grocery shopping for those in need.

Physical and Occupational Therapy. Staying mobile is especially important during the pandemic. Many seniors have become more isolated, increasing their risk for deconditioning and falls. The new center provides rehabilitative services, led by a team of physical and occupational therapists who help seniors stay safe and independent. A regimen of therapy and prevention exercises, whether in person at the center, at home, or by phone and video, keeps seniors moving and able to manage their activities of daily living at home.

Help at Home. Some individuals need more assistance, for instance with bathing, dressing, toileting, meal preparation, light housekeeping and companionship. As needed, the new center’s home health aides make home visits, which can be a tremendous help to caregivers. Nurses may also visit in order to give medications and care for wounds.  All care is provided with personal protective equipment, such as masks and face shields, to keep our participants safe.   

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Socialization. Without frequent social interaction and stimulation, many seniors are at risk of feeling isolated and lonely, which can lead to poor physical and mental health outcomes. The new center’s Adult Day program provides a place for people to be with friends and participate in a wide variety of activities.

During the pandemic, the center is following state guidelines for onsite Day program services. To help participants stay connected and to give them the opportunity to socialize from home, they’re invited to participate in activities virtually, such as Bingo and trivia, and to share in fun activities packets sent to the home. Spiritual care programs for support are offered to help cope with the impact of COVID-19 and other spiritual needs.

Transportation. LIFE vans provide the transportation necessary to help participants get to and from the center, as well as to and from their medical appointments. In addition to providing the transportation to medical appointments in the community, LIFE actually schedules the appointments for participants. If you ask any caregiver, they’ll tell you that these services have been a godsend, and that they are essential to support managing the care of their loved ones.

Saint Francis LIFE is enrolling seniors now to provide comprehensive care for seniors during this time and in the brighter days of our future. If you or someone you know could benefit from LIFE’s community-based coordinated care, contact us at 302-660-3351 or visit saintfrancislife.org.

Seniors qualifying for Medicare and Medicaid or Medicaid receive program services at no cost. Seniors who do not qualify for Medicaid may privately pay.  

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