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Opening an Alzheimer's Day Care Center

April 1, 2005
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A 2004 OPTIMA award entry documents the genesis of a day program for low-income seniors by Martha Sp inks, MSW, PhD
EFT"> BY MARTHA SPINKS, MSW, PHD

< /TABLE> Opening an Alzheimer's Day Care Cente r
From the staff of the S. Mark Taper Foundation Adult Day Health Care Center, Los Angeles
Our agency had operated a one-of-a-kind Alzheimer's Day Care Resource Center (ADCRC) since 1989, having e ntered this venture well ahead of the trends toward adult day care and respite. The center operated at its capa city average daily attendance (ADA) of 24 participants for several years, and the demand for services continued . Nevertheless, our ADCRC had five significant problems:

1. A crippling agency deficit. Because our nonprofit agency, St. Barnabas Senior Services, serves a largely working-class and low-income population, our clients generally are not able to pay the actual cost of care, which is $45 to 70 per day. Our ADCRC client s were paying approximately 25% of that. As a result, our agency, with the approval of its board of directors, accepted a deficit in this program that was offset mostly by agency reserves and, to a smaller degree, from fou ndation grants or scholarships and stipends for participants from various helping agencies. Even with this supp ort, the agency habitually carried a $100,000 deficit in the ADCRC from year to year.

2. We were a we ll-kept secret. Our agency had a good reputation among those who knew us, but it needed to be broadcast mor e widely: Clients came to us by word of mouth, mostly from other clients residing in our low-income, ethnic, in ner-city neighborhood with an inability to pay the full cost of the program.

3. Facility limitations. Four to six staff members cared for 24 people each day in one room measuring approximately 28' × 30', whic h posed several problems:

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