BY Kamala Kirk
For more than 50 years, Sun Health has championed healthy lifestyles through various wellness programs that enrich the lives of senior citizens.
The organization owns and operates three of 14 Life Plan Communities in Arizona and provides services to nearly 900 people daily.
Since launching Sun Health at Home in 2016 as the first continuing care retirement community (CCRC) at-home model in the Southwest, the program has rapidly attracted an average of 29 new members each year (more than double the national average for similar programs) and recently passed its 100-member mark.
“Sun Health at Home is a program that gives members the opportunity to age in place independently wherever they call home, with the assurance of knowing they have guaranteed lifetime access to care and services, should their health needs ever change,” says Barbara Mason, executive director of Sun Health at Home.
“While we know that living in a CCRC 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. Sun Health at Home is the perfect solution for those individuals by providing all the care and services you would expect from a CCRC, but in their very own home.”
Sun Health at Home members receive highly personalized support to maintain their health and independence, as well as coordinated medical appointments and procedures, private duty caregivers, companion services, transportation and facility-based care.
“Sun Health at Home is designed to be proactive toward members’ health goals and needs,” Mason says. “We strive to keep members as healthy or even more so from the time they join throughout their lives.”
To become a member, an individual must meet the minimum age requirement of 55, be reasonably healthy and living independently at the time of enrollment, and have financial resources for a one-time investment based on age, plus pay a monthly fee based on the plan option chosen. Discounted fees are offered for two people from the same household, along with flexible pricing options.
“The most significant benefit to a Sun Health at Home membership is wellness coordination,” Mason says. “Our wellness coordinators are registered nurses who partner with each member to develop a plan that supports the member’s specific health and wellness goals.”
A variety of membership plans are available depending on members’ needs. They range from the “Classic Plan”—which was designed to be the perfect complement to an existing long-term care insurance policy and provides members with 100% coverage of personal care coordination, wellness services and in-home care, excluding facility-based health services—all the way up to the Regal Plus Plan, which offers 100% coverage of Sun Health at Home services and includes access to community-based health services including assisted living, memory support and skilled nursing.
“Sun Health at Home is identified by the IRS as a prepaid medical expense with great tax deductibility,” Mason says. “We are the fastest-growing program of its kind in the country, and we have won three awards in the health care industry in only four years of operation. Sun Health at Home members have a 96% success rate when it comes to being able to remain in their home as they age. The plan options are also portable, so if a member decides to move, their services may go with them anywhere in the continental United States.”
Susan Young joined Sun Health at Home in 2016 and was the program’s first member. She became a member because she liked the idea of receiving care in her own home and wanted to have a plan for the future since she doesn’t have family in Arizona.
“Sun Health at Home is a wonderful program with compassionate staff who are dedicated to helping people work through whatever health challenges they are facing,” Young says. “Innovations are always being sought after to make this an even better program. This is a marvelous opportunity to join a program that will be working in your best interest, and it will give you much peace of mind. Being a member means being cared about as well as being cared for.”
Sharon Kinnison, who was the 108th member to join the program, found the wellness coordinator to be extremely beneficial, as she prefers to have one point of contact that takes care of making any necessary arrangements.
“I did a lot of research before I joined, but what has sort of surprised me is the amount of genuine care that the staff exhibit,” Kinnison says. “Most places, once they get you signed up, could care less what happens to you, but I do not get that feeling from the Sun Health at Home staff. They are familiar with me and my issues, and they seem to really care about me.”
Sun Health at Home services all areas of northern and western Maricopa County. Members reside in cities all over, including Cave Creek, Phoenix and Scottsdale. Mason says they will increase their footprint in Arizona as they identify further need for assistance in the community.
“Because we are not confined to a brick-and-mortar building, we are free to grow and expand as the need arises,” she says. “Our members express to us that they have no doubt they made the right decision to enroll in Sun Health at Home. They know and trust that we will be with them every step of the way no matter what illness, injuries or good old-fashioned aging sends their way.”
For more information, visit sunhealthcommunities.org.