Sun Health At Home is continuing to see growth as more seniors look for ways to remain active and in their homes.
The program, which provides support for seniors who wish to remain at home rather than seek out other living arrangements, launched four years ago and has grown at an average of 29 new members each year. It recently reached the milestone of 100 members.
“Sun Health has championed healthy living for over 50 years,” states Barbara Mason, executive director of SHAH. “While we know that living in a continuing care retirement community is exactly what some active adults want, we also know that the majority of people prefer to age in place in the home they know and love.”
Her observations concur with a survey conducted by The United States of Aging, which reports that older Americans are striving to age in place, despite physical and economic difficulties in some cases. According to the survey, nine in 10 seniors intend to continue living in their current homes over the next five to ten years.
“Sun Health at Home is the perfect solution for those individuals,” states Ms. Mason, “by providing all the care and services you would expect from a CCRC, but in their very own home. We are also able to preserve assets and ensure that the cost of long-term care is covered.”
The program is unlike long-term care insurance plans in that it is more comprehensive and cost-effective and does not require participants to meet stringent criteria to receive care.
To become a member, individuals must be age 55 or older; must be reasonably healthy and living independently at the time of enrollment; and must have financial resources for a one-time investment based on age to become a member, plus a monthly fee based on the plan option chosen.
“The program took some time to get off the ground as we had to lobby the state government for specific changes to be able to operate in Arizona,” states Ms. Mason. “We are fully licensed and regulated by the Arizona Department of Insurance, ensuring we operate within our scope and provide the care promised in our membership agreement. It took three years for Sun Health At Home to meet all the qualifications, which is why we are the only program of its kind in Arizona.”
SHAH members receive personalized support provided by a Sun Health wellness coordinator. A team of wellness coordinators is available 24/7, working with members to maintain health and independence as well as coordinate medical appointments and procedures, private-duty caregivers, companion services and transportation when necessary.
Sun City resident Susan Young, 81, was Sun Health At Home’s first member. She was intrigued by a notice in newspapers and was interested in the promotion of having care in one’s own home. She has no family in Arizona and was planning for the future.
“I have needed someone to take me to appointments for cataract surgery that was also able to sit in, and hear instructions for medications,” she states. “It was very comforting to be able to discuss what would be happening during surgery, and to have someone to care for me afterward.”
SHAH provides and coordinates short- or long-term care services for members for the rest of their lives. The program also assists in preserving assets when care needs arise and as costs increase in the future.
“I was delighted to see the number of care options that were being offered,” states Ms. Young. “They cover the whole spectrum of situations that will be needed as I grow older and need more help. I have no worries about having my needs bring met.”
Litchfield Park residents Judy, 71, and Rich Dempsey, 72, became members last year. They received a postcard in the mail informing them of Sun Health At Home, and while they were familiar with the Sun Health communities and had previously visited them several times, they were uncertain about moving to one of the properties. After attending a seminar, they were certain this was the right decision for them.
“Our favorite benefit is being able to use the facilities at La Loma Village,” the couple notes in a joint statement, “which is close to our home. This includes the fitness center, dining areas, access to classes and even field trips. The medical benefits will also be there when we need it.”
The Dempseys also liked the peace of mind and flexibility for long-term financial planning provided by SHAH: “It provides a medical cushion for later in life.”
Surprise residents Jim Cottrell, 69, and Jane Cottrell, 75, relatively new members, also attended a seminar, which they said contained no high-pressure sale tactics.
“We followed up with an in-home visit … to further answer questions in more detail,” the couple states. “What sold us on SHAH is that it provided a solution to living independently in our home while maintaining quality health care.”
The Cottrells take comfort in knowing the SHAH team of health care providers can work with them so they can remain independent and healthy in their own home.
“Shortly after we joined,” states Mr. Cottrell, “my wife had to have emergency surgery, and SHAH was very responsive with her health care needs, and they let us know they would be there for both of us as needed. SHAH continued to display a level of care and compassion during this time which reaffirmed that we made the right decision.”
Surprise resident Sally Harloff, 73, a member since 2018, received a direct mail invitation from SHAH and there was a “Discovery Seminar” just two miles from her home. The direct mail piece touched on several issues important to she and her husband, Bob.
“We want to be together while we age, preferably in our own home,” she states. “We wanted to know that there would be people that would assist us and that we could truly trust with our care and wellbeing. We did not want, nor expect, our family to think it is their obligation to care for us as we age. The direct mail piece listed those hot button (and more) issues. We signed up online to attend the no obligations Discovery Seminar.”
The most beneficial service, “hands down,” according to Ms. Harloff, “is having a team so close. Almost literally in our back yard! Any questions and concerns we have can be answered within just minutes. And it's not just the SHAH team, but also the strength and integrity of Sun Health as a whole.”
Ms. Harloff also shared her surprise when learning SHAH offers credits that can be redeemed for fitness classes.
“Of course,” she notes, “now with COVID-19, we have online classes available to everyone. [But] having an annual, free balance or fitness evaluation with Alex Stark is a huge plus… . I also love the SHAH group events. Whether it’s a trip out and about for half a day or a carnival at The Colonnade, luncheons or hanging out or a crafting project together, there are so many things to do.”
SHAH serves the West Valley including Anthem, Buckeye, Goodyear, Litchfield Park, Paradise Valley, Peoria, Scottsdale, Sun City, Sun City West and Surprise. Wellness coordinators ensure members are prepared, aware of options and always able to access care and services they need.
In addition to its health care offerings, SHAH provides non-medical services such as transportation, homemaker and companion services, and referrals to vetted service providers so members and their families don’t have to coordinate services, handle phone calls or paperwork.
“Our goal is and will remain to assist people in aging successfully in place and ensuring that there will never be any reason for alarm should life bring about change, “states Ms. Mason
Some of the program’s other services include in-home functional and safety assessment; coordination of services and care; companion services; homemaker services; and personal emergency response system.
“We will increase our footprint in Arizona as we identify further need for assistance in our community,” states Ms. Mason. “Because we are not confined to a brick-and-mortar building, we are free to grow and expand as the need arises.”
For information about Sun Health At Home, visit sunhealthcommunities.org/sun-health-at-home.