Adult day care center helps elderly who don't need to be in a nursing home

March 15, 1995|By Heather Reese | Heather Reese,Contributing Writer

Westminster's first adult day care center is open and its owners say Deerfield Senior Services will fill a growing need for alternatives to residential nursing home care.

The center, which opened last month and has scheduled an open house tomorrow, provides a structured environment and daily activities for older people who need "daytime care but do not need to be institutionalized," said John Sneath, chief executive officer of the Baltimore-based company, Deerfield Healthcare Corp.

The center also has a Renaissance Program designed for people who suffer from Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.

"The [Renaissance] program is perfect for Alzheimer's patients because they can do things in the center to maintain life skills, like eating, cleaning and cooking," Mr. Sneath said.

Mr. Sneath said the Deerfield program is suited for people who have suffered a stroke, heart disease, diabetes or Parkinson's disease.

The center could be useful for anyone who has recuperated from a medical problem and needs day help. The facility, located near Carroll County Airport, is not equipped to deal with those who suffer from acute medical problems, Mr. Sneath said.

With plans to open four similar centers in the Baltimore-Washington area between now and July, Mr. Sneath said his company's research shows a growing need in Carroll for adult day care services.

Janet B. Flora, chief of the Carroll County Bureau of Aging, agrees.

"We've seen a need for adult day care in Westminster for a long time," she said. "It's nice to see someone responding to that need."

According to the Bureau of Aging, the population of Carroll County residents who are over 60 is 18,593, while the population of residents over 75 is 6,005; the average age of a Deerfield member is 81.

"The senior population is rapidly growing, and the focus is to keep people independent as long as they can, whether they are at home or in a day care center," said Lynette Brewer, community service supervisor for the Bureau of Aging.

Fees are structured according to the number of days a week that a person will use the center.

For example, if a member attends seven days a week, the fee will be $49 a day; however, if a member attends only two days, costs will reach $64 a day.

The 5,440-square-foot Westminster center has enrolled seven members and the company hopes to attract about 30 people a day by the end of the year.

"That would be about 60 members overall, because not everyone comes every day," Mr. Sneath said.

Mr. Sneath is joined in the venture by Burke Whitman, the year-old company's president and chief financial officer, and other private investors. Both men worked previously for Almost Family, the largest provider of adult day care in the United States.

Mr. Sneath said one of the major reasons that they decided to open the Westminster branch first was because the service had not previously been offered here.

"Our goal is to grow rapidly," Mr. Sneath said. "We cast our nets out fairly widely and found markets in Massachusetts, Maryland and New Jersey. The first market that met our criteria was Westminster. No one was providing the service there and there is no competition within 13 miles.

"Westminster is more rural than our other markets, but when we did the basic analysis of needs, we thought it was a very solid location," Mr. Sneath said.

The center opens about 8:30 a.m. and provides a continental breakfast during which members socialize and watch television. The morning program also includes exercises designed according to physical stamina. In addition, the program has two two-hour activity periods and an afternoon social.

Deerfield provides transportation to and from the center and rides to medical and hair stylist appointments, a popular service, said Heather Olney, Deerfield's admissions director. "Just because people get older doesn't mean they have to stop living."

Deerfield also provides for participants' nutritional needs. A major concern for seniors living alone is nutrition, Ms. Olney said.

While at Deerfield, members eat two balanced meals prepared to specifications of a registered dietitian. "This way they can go home and just eat a sandwich and still have maintained a healthy diet."

The center has a library that includes information for caregivers, in addition to offering a caregiver support group to help the families of center clients.

"If you don't care for yourself, you can't care for someone else," Ms. Olney said. The center has extended hours from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. to provide an occasional respite for caregivers and their families, Ms. Olney said.

In addition to providing a daily routine, Deerfield offers other services, including a nurse on the premises during normal business hours. The center also has a physical therapist to help members build strength and suggest physical activity, and a social worker on staff who will go to members' homes to help families make sure they are safe for Alzheimer's patients, Ms. Olney said.

While the state requires that facilities such as Deerfield maintain a staff/member ratio of 6-to-1, Deerfield has one caregiver for every three members, Ms. Olney said.

Employees go through a 60-hour training program.

"The training is very detailed," Mr. Sneath said. "It gets the team to bond so that they know what they are doing from Day One."

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