We recently had a chance to speak with Jeff Parsons to discuss the Primary Care at Home model offered by Capital Caring Health. We are excited to share the many ways in which healthcare continues to transform and allow individuals to age in place, safely and happily.
- What is your background and experience?
My name is Jeff Parsons and I have been with Capital Caring Health for the past two years. As of December 2020, I have been the Director of Continuum Services and previously I was the Regional Manager for Hospice Services. My position is responsible for ensuring that elder individuals in the community are linked to the correct services provided by Capital Caring Health, with a focus on development and sustainability.
- Can you provide more details on the services that Capital Caring Health provides?
Capital Caring Health is one of the largest nonprofit providers of advanced illness, elder health, home and hospice care in the mid-Atlantic region. We provide comprehensive, compassionate care to more than 2,000 patients of all ages and their families each day, primarily in the home. In addition, Capital Caring Health provides grief and bereavement counseling to anyone in the community who has suffered a loss or trauma – free of charge. We are one of the few hospice organizations to provide care to pediatric patients.
Capital Caring Health was founded 43 years ago with a sole focus on hospice. However, we’ve expanded to offer a suite of services to provide individuals with all-encompassing care based in quality and respect. Capital Caring Health has expanded our services beyond hospice and palliative care to include medical and social support services for seniors who are 65 years of age and older with chronic conditions. Primary Care at Home was launched at the end of 2019 to bring specialized geriatric services to seniors where they live, allowing them to age in place with dignity. Capital Caring Health also offers home services such as food delivery and meal programs, pet care services and support to those who cannot get outside the home.
How do you define the Primary Care at Home model?
The Primary Care at Home model is designed to provide healthcare and social support for elders with serious illnesses. Special care teams consisting of a doctor, nurse practitioner and social worker make regular house calls to provide diagnostic tests (blood work, X-rays, ultrasound) and offer complex medical care, medication management and coordinate specialty care as needed, keeping patients safe in their homes and out of the hospital.
This model is perfect for those with the inability to make doctors’ visits for complex illness. Patients and families have 24/7 phone access for peace of mind. Capital Caring Health strives for high touch collaboration within the care team, which may include the client’s existing physicians, should they still wish to continue seeing them.
The lead of Capital Caring’s Primary Care at Home team is Dr. Eric De Jonge, our Chief of Geriatrics. He has more than 20 years of experience as a physician specifically working with an elderly population. He works with a strong team of other physicians, nurse practitioners, social workers and others who provide a full continuum of services. We build rapport and clear communication with all clients and all stakeholders in their care plan.
- Why is Capital Caring Health, as a primarily hospice-focused organization, turning to this new model?
Capital Caring Health implemented the Primary Care at Home model because we recognized that there was a gap in the coverage of care for older adults with serious illnesses. Hospice is available for patients under certain criteria with respect to end-of-life care; however, there are many seniors who do not fall under that umbrella but still may require advanced care.
When we recognized that gap in the communities we serve, Capital Caring Health decided to provide palliative and primary care at home services to those who have serious illnesses but who are not yet ready for hospice care. This model helps to fill the need for that care and allows us to better meet the needs of our community
- Who is eligible for the Primary Care at Home model?
Capital Caring Health wants to ensure that as many individuals as possible are able to take part in the Primary Care at Home (PCH) model if they have the need. We take most insurances, including Medicare, with some limited exceptions. Under this model, we serve older adults 65+ with chronic illnesses, particularly those who need help getting to the doctors and need the additional peace of mind that our team and home-based care can provide.
- What are important considerations when seeking care under this model?
Individuals who have chronic advanced illness or impairment and difficulty getting to doctors’ offices may want to consider this model. We know that managing care for these illnesses may exhaust both the individual and/or their caregivers and believe that at-home care can lessen many of these burdens. It can be detrimental and risky to take someone who is weak and struggling with activities of daily living and physical impairment outside the home for medical attention. Allowing the care to come to the patient may be the best choice for these individuals and their caregivers.
- How do you foresee this program’s growth and impact on the community?
Capital Caring Health is expanding this program significantly in March and April of 2021. Currently we serve DC, Maryland and Virginia, with plans to include rural and underserved areas. Our website (capitalcaring.org/pch) includes the latest information about the service area we cover.
We are excited to continue to further expand and deploy the PCH model and believe it will benefit the aging community. We have already seen that the team’s efforts have led to lowered hospital admission/readmission rates and provide patients with a greater sense of security. Once you go to the hospital, there are bigger risks at play, especially with COVID-19, and our model helps to reduce the likelihood of needing to go to the hospital. This is a great opportunity to serve vulnerable groups in our community and to fill the gap we identified between hospice and in-home primary care.
- How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted this offering under Capital Caring Health?
COVID-19 hasn’t really impacted our model. We are still seeing our patients and are making sure that our patients and employees are safe with correct personal protective equipment (PPE) and protections in place. We have increased our use of telehealth, which is particularly valuable with symptom management, but we also utilize face-to-face meetings when possible to address the lack of connection that can sometimes occur when utilizing technology entirely for care. With this balance between virtual and in-person care, we’ve been able to continue our services throughout the pandemic without much impact to our clients.
- How can clients sign up for this model?
Individuals who are interested in the Primary Care at Home Model can call 844-398-4720 toll-free to leave a voicemail and receive a response within 24-48 hours. Once we get in touch, our team will perform an assessment to make sure you’re a good fit for the program, begin the intake process and schedule your first physician appointment. You can also go on our website to complete a simple inquiry form to reach our team at https://www.capitalcaring.org/ pchbenefits/.