Choosing an Adult Day Care Center
Your first step in looking for right Adult Day Health Care Center (ADHC) starts from checking out of what is available in your area. Start your search with a call to your local Area Agency on Aging or to a local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, which keeps an updated list of adult day care centers throughout the country.
In addition to this resource for information, you can also try:
- Your family doctor.
- Local social services or health department.
- Mental health centers.
- Local senior center.
- Area Agency on Aging (Call 1-800-677-1116 for the AAA in your area).
- Yellow Pages listings under Adult Day Care, Aging Services, Senior Citizens' Services, and similar categories.
In general, there are three types of adult day care centers:
- A social center, where activities and socialization are offered.
- A medical/health center, where nursing or rehabilitation services are available for people who have come out of a hospital or who have a disease that needs to be monitored, as well as activities.
- A specialized center that serves a specific population such as people with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
Specialized centers may be the hardest to find, but that doesn’t mean another type of center won’t offer the services you need. According to a 2010 report by the Alzheimer’s Association, people with Alzheimer’s and dementia were accepted at 95 percent of adult day care centers in 2009. Some states require centers to be licensed or certified, but the regulations vary from state to state.
What to Expect From Adult Day Care
In general, adult day care centers are open five days a week during normal business hours, but some provide evening and weekend services. Programs vary from center to center, with most offering activities, meals and snacks, and assistance with using the bathroom and other daily living activities. Different centers offer different programs. For example, some might have a gardening program and others may focus on art activities.
Some centers will provide transportation; if not, be sure that your loved one is brought inside to a staff member at the center rather than dropped off at the curb. Otherwise, someone with Alzheimer’s could wander off.
Questions to Ask to Help You Find the Right Center
Before you start making decisions about adult care services, talk to your loved one, if possible. Ask him or her, what are the preferences in a center. Whenever they can be part of the decision-making, they should be, if that is reasonable to expect feedback from a patient based on the stage of the illness.
Once you’ve narrowed down your search to centers that you’d like to visit, make a list of questions to ask each director. The more specific your questions are, the better you will be able to understand how the facilities and services fit your needs and requirements.
Spend a day at the adult day care center that sounds best to you, so that you can get a "feel" for the people and the environment. Also, check out references. Talk to others who have used the adult day care center and ask for their opinions.
You may wish to try out different adult day care centers a few times each to see whether your experience on different days confirms your initial impressions. Be sure to bring the following site visit checklist with you each time.
Checklist for Choosing an Adult Day Care Facility
- Location of facility
- Is the facility accessible?
- Can individual get to facility?
- Is transportation to the facility available?
- Is there an extra charge for transportation?
- How long has the day care facility been in business?
- What days and hours is the facility open?
- Is the day care licensed by the state health department or department of social services?
- Has the state health department received any substantiated complaints about the care provided in the facility?
- What is the cost of care? Hourly, daily, or weekly? Must you commit to a minimum amount of service, i.e., at least 2 days/week? Are all activities included in the cost?
- Does the facility accept individuals who:
- Are incontinent?
- Are in wheelchairs?
- Have memory loss?
- Have difficulties in speaking?
- Have special dietary requirements?
- Have behavioral problems?
- What is the participant to staff ratio? Does this ratio meet state standards? What professional staff is available to help with care planning and concerns?
- What activities are provided?
- Are there individual and group activities?
- Are the activities stimulating? Exercise, music, crafts, memory sharing, etc.
- Are individuals with dementia separated from other participants or included in activities?
- Does the facility provide other conveniences/benefits such as blood pressure checks, annual immunizations, hair styling services, bathing, dental check-ups, etc.?
- What is the policy concerning late arrival or late pick-up?
- Are the meals well-balanced and enjoyed by participants? Are meals included in the cost?
- Is staff willing to spend time finding out what you want and need? Were the programs and activities explained?
- Is the day care facility clean, odorless, and pleasant to visit? Does the facility have comfortable furniture for activities and for relaxation?
- Do participants interact with each other? Do they seem to enjoy their time at the facility?
- Is the staff pleasant to the participants?
- Can the facility accommodate the following special physical or medical requirements:
- Dispense medicine?
- Give reminders about taking pills?
- Assist with toileting or handle incontinence?
- Provide total access and participation to wheelchair-restricted clients?
- Effectively communicate with hearing impaired participants?
- Is financial assistance available? Is there a sliding scale, Medicare, Medicaid, or other funding available to help you pay the cost?
- How do they insure safety? How are behavior problems handled? Are there specific behaviors or care needs which would require your loved one's withdrawal from the program?
Sources and Additional Information: