‘Bridge’ing The Adult Care Gap

Adult day centers offer some clients an alternative to institutionalization as well as providing social interactions in a safe environment and giving their caregivers time to handle day-to-day business or hold down full-time employment.

Bridges of Rouse is the only adult day center in Warren County.

The secure facility offers services much like senior centers and combines that with some of the offerings available at nursing facilities.

“We can do wounds, treatments, ostomies, vital sign monitoring, catheters…” Administrator Casey Walters, RN, said.

Clients undergo quarterly health assessments and staff can notify clients’ doctors if they see signs that medications or other treatments may need to change.

Bridges accepts adults with varying degrees of need. “We have a wide variety of ability levels,” Walters said. “It’s not just for significantly impaired individuals.”

Some clients initially come in to use the shower. “Quite a few people take their showers here,” she said. “A lot of people have tubs they have to step over.” The Bridges showers are walk-in and staff can provide assistance as needed. In some cases, caregivers are uncomfortable with or unable to bathe their charges at home.

Those clients who come in initially just for a shower often find that they enjoy the facility and stay for other services, Walters said.

“We have an activity coordinator,” she said. “We are an activity-based program. We have activities scheduled from morning through afternoon.”

Some of the offerings include bingo, card games, board games, singing, reminiscing, trivia, and art classes. An internet connection, comfortable seating around a wide-screen TV, a piano, and other diversions are available.

“We have a planned activity schedule, but nothing is written in stone,” Walters said.

Those who are interested may participate in outings – from lunch at Bob Evans in North Warren or at the Allegheny Community Center to a trip to Busti Cider Mill or day at the Erie Zoo – that are generally held once a week, depending on the weather.

There is also an exercise on the schedule for every day.

Personal care, including manicures and hair care, is also available.

“We provide breakfast, a hot lunch, and an afternoon snack,” Walter said. Sometimes clients participate in cooking and baking activities in the kitchen.

“They feed us. All the time we’re eating,” Marjorie Hedman said. While she enjoys eating, she admits she’s “not much of a cook.”

One of her three daughters in town is her primary caregiver. “My daughter takes care of me,” Hedman said. “It’s nice to get away a little.”

She no longer drives, so the facility gives her a chance to get out of the house and make friends. “We have good times,” she said. “They all have a sense of humor.”

“I like it real well,” Joyce Loutzenhiser said. “It keeps us busy. It has a variety of things to do. I just like being with everybody here. I probably would be staying home.”

“I enjoy coming,” Joyce Mortland said. “I enjoy the meals… the social interaction.”

And the staff keeps an eye on the clients’ health. “They monitor vital signs, weight,” Mortland said.

Some of the clients said they might be faced with moving into a residential care facility if not for Bridges.

“It can keep people in their home,” Walters said.

Bridges is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Clients may attend from a few minutes to nine hours, one to five days a week. Attendance is generally scheduled, though casual attendance is welcome with notice if the staffing level allows. The staff-to-client ratio is a minimum of one to five, Walters said.

“In comparison to assisted living, personal care, and skilled nursing facilities, daily rates at an adult day center are much more affordable,” Walters said.

The daily cost is $72. A rate of $35 applies to those who attend for three hours or less.

Most of Bridges’ clients do not pay out-of-pocket.

“Most use one of the waiver services,” Walters said.

Veterans affairs, agency on aging, and independence waivers are accepted. In many cases, “those waiver programs will pay the full cost of someone coming here,” she said.

Admission to Bridges is fairly simple. “There are two requirements for admission: a physical including a TB test and an intake assessment,” Walters said. She conducts the intake assessments and once a person has met the requirements, they can start attending the following day.

Bridges works with the Transit Authority of Warren County to help provide transportation to the facility. In cases where the shared ride program cannot pick up an individual on the assigned day, a Bridges van is available.

The benefits extend beyond the client.

“It’s challenging to provide care 24-7,” Walters said. “That’s a lot.”

Adult day services can allow the caregiver a chance to “take care of your needs for a while” or “allow them to maintain a job.”

“We need to educate the public about what’s available,” Walters said. “It could be a significant benefit to the community.”

Bridges can accommodate 28 people per day. The typical attendance is less than half that.