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Alaska Pioneer Homes is a system of assisted living residences established in 1913 by the state legislature. The concept of state-owned and operated assisted living residences is unique among the 50 US states and is beneficial to state residents, including those with Alzheimer’s Disease, in several ways. First, the cost of room, board, and care provided in these residences is less expensive than privately owned assisted living communities in the same geographic areas of Alaska. Second, financial assistance is available for those who cannot afford the already below-market monthly fees. Third, the care philosophy and amenities provided at these residences usually exceeds the level provided at privately owned residences. In fact, many Pioneer Homes adhere to highly respected Eden Alternative philosophy.
Currently there are six Alaska Pioneer Homes located throughout the state in Fairbanks, Palmer, Anchorage, Sitka, Juneau, and Ketchikan. These homes are under the administration of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Alaska Pioneer Homes.
Pioneer Homes are open to any Alaska resident who is 65 years or older and has physically resided within the state for a minimum of twelve consecutive months prior to applying. Functionally, applicants must be unable to maintain their own home without regular assistance for meal preparation, shopping, dressing or personal hygiene due to a physical or medical impairment, disability or infirmity. Additionally, applicants must have, or have applied for, Medicare Parts A and B, and agree to pay the established monthly fees.
Eligibility for financial assistance is more complicated. In addition to the above requirements, candidates must provide documentation proving their (and their spouse's) monthly income and countable assets, such as bank accounts, stocks, and bonds. Their financial situation is assessed and they are permitted to maintain a certain level of income and assets. Everything in excess of those levels must go towards paying for the Pioneer Home's monthly fees. Applicants cannot concurrently be eligible for Medicaid and receive financial assistance from Pioneer Homes.
Pioneer Homes offer a variety of services to residents, including meal preparation, assistance with the activities of daily living, such as bathing, eating, and dressing, medication administration, health assessments, recreational activities, and supervision for those with Alzheimer's or related dementias. Services and activities may also include laundry, housecleaning, emergency call systems, and church services. As these homes are assisted living facilities, they do not provide skilled nursing services.
Within Pioneer Homes, there are three distinct levels of care, which determine the resident's monthly fees. An assessment is done for eligible applicants to determine which level of care is needed. “Level I” services include meals, housing, emergency assistance, activities, and recreation. “Level II” services include Level I services in addition to medication administration, health related services, and assistance with activities of daily living, as well as supervision. Make note, with “Level II” services, nighttime assistance is not provided. “Level III” services include all of the services under Levels I and II, in addition to around the clock assistance.
As of January 2017, Level I services cost $2,549.75 per month, Level II $4,622.10 per month, and Level III, $6,694.45 per month. As mentioned previously, significant financial assistance is available to state residents with limited income and assets. Each resident's financial situation is re-assessed annually.
Despite the fact that the six Pioneer Homes can accommodate over 500 individuals, a waiting list does exist. Those persons who are interested, but do not wish to be considered for immediate entry, should apply for the inactive wait list. Those prepared to enter the program within thirty days should apply for the active wait list. Applicants are free to change their application from inactive to active, but those that decline admission, choosing to move from the active to inactive wait list, are required to remain on the inactive list for a minimum of 90 days before transferring back to the active waitlist.
An application can be downloaded from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services website or is available at each of the Pioneer Homes. One can also call 907-465-4416 to obtain an application. Completed applications may be turned in at any of the six Pioneer Homes or returned to the Division of Pioneer Homes Central Office in Juneau. For additional information about Alaska Pioneer Homes, click here.