Education, Consulting & Mentorship for Aging Service Professionals


Adult Day Care: What is it and why is it important for our senior population?

I recently moved to Philadelphia Pennsylvania, and accepted a position as a Recreation Director for a geriatric daycare program. I have a strong passion for older adults, and took this opportunity to expand my scope of practice, able to be a department head, and really dig my heels into recreation management in a geriatric setting. I had never worked in adult daycare prior, nor had I honestly ever been inside an adult daycare center. For those who are graduating, looking for internships, looking to shift populations or settings, or maybe even are looking for an option for your loved one this article might be of service to you!

Adult Day Care centers are designed to provide care and companionship for older adults who need supervision and extra assistance during the day. These programs offer relief and aid to families and caregivers to allow them to go to work/handle personal business/run errands without the anxiety of wondering if their loved one is okay and safe.

Overall, adult day care has a few prominent goals for their clients. The first is to delay or prevent institutionalized care by offering this alternative. Adult daycares provide the proper medical and holistic care for members without these members being taken from their homes and put into 24/7 nursing facilities. Another goals for these daycares are to encourage socialization and recreation pursuits.

Services that Adult Day Cares can provide Include:

  • Counseling
  • Education
  • Evening care
  • Exercise
  • Health screening
  • Meals
  • Medical care
  • Physical therapy
  • Recreation
  • Respite care
  • Socialization
  • Supervision
  • Transportation
  • Medication management

An example of a member who could benefit from adult daycare services, could be someone with early stage dementia, had a recent accident, or needs assistance managing medications and food intake; who lives alone or with their loved one who still works. This person cannot participate in a regular senior center, but needs too little care to be placed into long term care. Below is a case example.

Paul is 69 years old and recently experienced a stroke. He needs some care and supervision, so he lives with his son, David, and daughter-in-law, Kira. Because they both work, David and Kira need help to care for Paul during the day. They found a solution by having Kira take Paul to the local adult day care center in the morning, and having David pick him up after work. The center monitors Paul’s medication and offers him lunch, some physical therapy, and a chance to socialize with other seniors through recreational options.

So, as a Recreation Director – what is my role?

I am on the management team for my center. I work hand in hand with the center director and my day to day job consists of quite a bit of paperwork, progress notes, care plans, volunteer services, marketing techniques, social media posts, and assisting in large group programming. I am basically a ‘Kate of all trades’!

Recreation Directors for adult care facilities take into consideration the functionality of the entire center, the population, the needs, the recreation histories, and opinions of its members and creates a monthly calendar filled with programming that touches on an array of domains such as physical, cognitive, social, and more.

Due to the fact that I have a background in therapeutic recreation, and not just activities, I have implemented a good rapport with the physical therapy team and have aided them in care planning for my members in physical-based recreation during their PT sessions based on their diagnoses and their recreation history. Secondly, due to my TR background, it has enabled me to begin implementing small group programs while the larger groups are taking place. While there might be a large group “Ball Toss” program going on – I have taken programming a step further by adding more therapeutic programs for specific individuals based on their leisure interests.

For example, a small beading circle for a group of ladies that love jewelry making and also need to work on certain care plan goals such as socialization, hand dexterity, and fine motor skills. By collaborating with the PT team, it also ensures you are more keen on understanding their medical needs and not just their social/leisure interests. These small goal-oriented groups are not something every recreation director does or needs to do to meet the overarching goals of an adult day care facility, but I find the smaller groups have more engagement and have a more meaningful impact rather than constant diversional programming.

Overall, adult day care centers are a special space in healthcare that enables elders to stay within their homes, obtain certain medical attention, and socialize throughout the day through active and passive recreation opportunities. These centers provide a space for elders to foster friendships, stay active in their communities, and have a fun and safe space to be when their loved one is at work.

If you’d like to check out where I work visit the following links:
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What are your thoughts on adult daycare facilities? What other questions do you have? Drop them in the comments below!

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