A Confluence of Care at the New Sutter PACE Facility

Jaymi Alas

April 15, 2019

I chose interior design as a career because I love the balance of the technical and artistic aspects. The tasks and challenges vary from day to day, and I am continually learning and improving. I feel very fortunate to be part of a firm that offers me these opportunities, and aligns with clients who share the same values, like Sutter Health.

Two rivers meet by the new Sutter PACE facility.

Sutter partnered with Dreyfuss + Blackford to design a new SeniorCare PACE facility, consolidating two existing facilities that have been operating in the Sacramento region for over 20 years. PACE stands for Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, and the new, 45,000 sf state-of-the-art facility allows them to increase their service capacity and improve health outcomes. PACE was founded in the Bay Area as an alternative to American nursing homes, by the On Lok organization. On Lok is Cantonese for ‘peaceful, happy abode.’  PACE follows this community-based, interdisciplinary team approach to caring for seniors and supporting their families, and addresses the whole person, not just specific symptoms. Seniors are participants in the program, not patients.

Sutter PACE participants have a tailored care plan that can include home care as well as transportation to the facility for the numerous services and amenities. On site, there is a clinic with general exam, podiatry, audiology, dental, and vision services.  Physical and occupational therapy, sunny indoor and outdoor exercise areas,  laundry and salon services are also available. The main day room features a kitchen providing hot meals, arts and crafts, specialized memory care activities, and perhaps the most critical component – social interaction.  Preventing isolation is a major part of keeping seniors living independently in their homes, and the main reason so many participants look forward to returning to the facility each day.  There is also an administrative wing, where care staff co-locates and consults with family members of participants, promoting consistent team communication and monitoring of each participant’s care plan.

The new PACE facility opened in December 2018, and is located near the confluence of the Sacramento and American Rivers, which inspired the design concept for the interior environment. The river confluence is a critical transition point – what happens at this location affects everything that happens downstream. Similarly, PACE programs provide holistic care at a critical time in participants’ lives, positively affecting their quality of life, and promoting independence and social interaction.  Our team created an interior design that incorporates organically influenced materials and modern design elements to create high-end, hospitality-inspired spaces. The interior palette takes advantage of daylighting, contrast and tranquil tones to support senior care and provide a supportive environment for participants and staff alike.

A peek through the roof into the interior patio.

Activity rooms have ample natural light.

I approach project design and decisions through various lenses – balancing owner requirements, the user experience (both the participants and the staff), with how the project represents Sutter Health, and how it represents Dreyfuss + Blackford, which is then filtered through intuition and technical knowledge. I seek to understand not only the ‘why’ for the entire project, but what motivates each person on the team, and respond to that. Working with the Sutter project team was truly a collaborative partnership – they trusted our expertise, we trusted them, and I felt comfortable continually advocating for the users throughout the project phases.

The facility has unique and valuable amenities.

The greatest reward as a team member on the PACE project is knowing that we have created a space that the client is ecstatic about, and that the incredibly deserving and dedicated staff has a modern environment to support their important work. The greatest reward as a member of the community is the realization that PACE is the not only the future of senior care, but health care overall. The holistic care model, and funding based on health outcomes has been studied and shown to improve outcomes, increasing cost savings and reducing hospital stays and emergency room visits. PACE elevates the experience of aging, and now families caring for parents, grandparents and loved ones have a support system and a place for their loved ones to thrive.

“The finished product is far beyond what everyone connected with PACE could ever have envisioned. You absolutely nailed it!” — Christie O’Hanlon, Sutter Health

Open and welcoming public spaces abound.

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