Adult Day Programs
Centres and programs encourage senior interaction
Also called adult day care and adult day services, these programs offer benefits to both seniors and their caregivers (usually family members, that is). For seniors, adult day programs offer a social outlet that facilitates community and interaction with others. The environment is safe and supervised and gives seniors a regular social outlet. For caregiving families, adult day programs offer a needed respite from care so that they can run errands, work or simply relax, knowing that their loved one is in good hands and is benefiting from the company of others.
Privately run programs like those listed below come with increased reliability and accesibility, over against publicly run programs, which may have waiting lists or otherwise limited availability. Private companies are, in fact, often hired by provincial or municipal governments to run the day program, thanks to their expertise and professionalism in this area.
Adult Day Programs and Services
Programs are generally run during the work week and are structured to a few hours at time; they may include games, crafts, exercise programs, outings or many other interactive activities. Seniors are encouraged to interact with others in the community, forming friendships and learning from others who share the same cares and concerns. These help facilitate and extend independence, and there is a multi-faceted therapeutic value to them. Therapeutic value may come from exercising the mind and the body, encouraging conversation, sharing, and group support. Some programs, like those listed above, may also have assistive staff or facilities on hand; there may even be care available that includes feeding and other help with activities of daily living.
Any senior who loves companionship and yearns for social interaction should look into adult day centers near them or adult day programs offered by local services or facilities. It is best to move forward from a position of strength and know what's out there before you actually think you need it. People who have provided care for others and who have cherished independence all their lives may be skeptical at first but these programs offer many benefits.
Consider adult day programs especially if:
- You are losing structure to your days
- You feel isolated and you do not have enough time with other people
- You have issues with safety in your own home
- You spend entire days alone or live with someone who spends most of the day away from home.
More about the programs
Many of these are offered by provincial or municipal governments. In Ontario, for example, there are LHIN-run programs throughout the province. In Mississauga alone there are at least 10 separate adult day programs, offered at a variety of locations throughout the Mississauga Halton region. These programs provide excellent care and activities but unfortunately all of these have limited space and may be filled at the time that you require them.
As an alternative you can go directly to private adult day care program providers (like those listed above) and pay the fees yourself in order to get into the best quality program, the one you want. The private sector may also offer more variety, better facilities and professional staffing, and they may have more specialized programming. They stand by to cover the needs of those who cannot be covered in publicly-funded care environments.
Broadly speaking, there are various levels of care in adult day programs (or adult day care centers). Most of those offered publicly focus only on social interaction. Others, which tend to be privately run by home care agencies or similarly private companies, offer extra medical care or programs targeted at those with Alzheimer's Disease or dementia (for example). Providers can also include retirement residences, medical centers and other facilities in the senior care sphere. Some programs may integrate people of various ages, including those who are younger.
Types of care and programming in adult day centres
Some typical examples of activities and services available through adult day programs include the following:
- Exercise programs and activities
- Group discussions and sharing time
- Crafting activities, art therapy and similar
- Music activities like group singing, music sharing or games
- Social outings geared toward the interests of those in the group
- Gardening, flower care and other horticultural events
- Indoor games such as cards, board games, etc.
- Outdoor games like shuffleboard, bocce ball, etc.
- Snacks and nutritious meals, where the timing obliges
Some programs go beyond this and may even offer extended care and services such as transportation to and from the program facility, onsite foot care, hairdressing and other aesthetics. Many (but not all) offer assistance with activities of daily living, including feeding and even bathing. You'll have to look into local care programs to learn what is available.
Regulation of adult day care programs in Canada
Adult day programs are regulated differently from one province to the next, though broadly speaking, there are similarities in how they are administered across the country.
In British Columbia, you can participate in day programs only if you have already met criteria of eligibility for home and community care services, as established by BC Health. In addition to meeting those criteria, seniors must be deemed unable to function independently due to chronic health problems, and assessed as requiring these adult day services as part of a care plan. You must also agree to pay daily rates. As with other provinces, day programs are seen as a form of respite care. BC Health may provide transportation to and from programs, depending on needs and availability.
In the province of Alberta, Alberta Health Services Case Managers oversee eligibility for Adult Day Programs (also called Adult Day Support Programs) in the province. Government sponsored programs will charge you a per-visit fee to cover the cost of onsite food that may include a snack or meal. Programs are generally divided into Basic or Comprehensive. Basic Adult Day Programs from AHS offer a variety of activities including exercise, social outings, and games. They also include assistance with activities of daily living (for example, medication administration). In some Alberta communities (typically larger centres, like Calgary and Edmonton) there will be specific programs available for those with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia. Comprehensive Adult Day Programs in Albert will focus on the needs of AHS clients with cognitive impairments; these programs may include onsite professional health care.
In Ontario, Adult Day Services are covered by LHINs. LHIN case workers assess patient requirements and eligibility for all care, including Adult Day Programs in the senior's community. Patients can contact programs directly and take a tour to learn about proximity, availability and other concerns such as group size, regularity, transportation options, etc. Each program has its own suitability and availability. Seniors may decide they really want to take part in a program which already has a waiting list; patients fill in a "choice form" demonstrating their desire to take part in a specific program.
Government regulation and administration does not at all preclude the availability of programs (especially private ones) to any family who feels the need to sign up, or create their own respite care program. On another hand, many seniors seek companionship, and are unsure of the proper outlet in which to find social engagement. Adult Day Programs offer a perfect solution, in which people meet and make friends with like-minded, similarly-aged neighbours in their community.
Private care providers work to meet the needs of the market, and as is seen so often, there may be a greater need than publicly funded services are able to meet. Learn more from providers listed on this page or from the appropriate government service noted above.