Christiana Care’s Adult Day Program serves adults who, because of age or disability, are unable to stay at home alone when their caregivers are away.
Elizabeth McLaughlin’s brother John has been a program member since 1999. She says the caring people who work there hold a very special and valuable place in their lives.
Although John McLaughlin isn’t able to speak, his sister says it’s easy to understand him once you take the time to get to know him. Pennington and the rest of the Adult Day Program staff have taken that time and have no problem understanding her brother, McLaughlin says.
“I’m really grateful that he is with people who understand him so quickly,” Elizabeth McLaughlin says.
The bright, airy facilities, the deep sense of teamwork and a wellspring of engaging activities at the program combine to create an environment that is good for the clients and comforting for their caregivers, McLaughlin says.
“They don’t focus on the disability,” she says. “They focus on each person’s individual interests and goals and find ways to make everything work for people of all levels of ability.”
Welcome Thelma from Chicago
Shirley Dillon’s mother, Thelma Chandler, moved in with her from her home in Chicago in 2009. Her mother has been going to the Adult Day Program since spring.
“She was missing her friends and relatives in Chicago, and I was trying to do everything myself,” Dillon says. She was happy to learn about the Adult Day Program, and she has been even happier with the level of service and care her mother receives at the program.
“I am very, very persnickety about my mom’s wellbeing, and everyone at Christiana Care has been extremely accommodating,” Dillon says.
Dillon describes the program as a new experience for both herself and her mother, who was never into arts and craft or some of the other activities the program participants do.
“But she really seems to enjoy it,” Dillon says. “They do an excellent job of keeping her stimulated, and it gives me some time to take care of things I need to do.”
Dillon has been so happy with the Adult Day Program that she has recommended it to other people who find themselves in the position of caregiver for elderly parents or other family members.
“I think Christiana Care has done really a fantastic job. I have to give accolades to Gayle and everyone else,” Dillon says.
Therapeutic program changes lives
Ina Li, M.D., associate director of Geriatrics for Christiana Care, recounts one story after another of patients and their families whose lives have changed as a result of participating in the program.
The social and psychological benefits are abundant, she says, recalling one elderly patient who lived alone and frequently became lonely, anxious and depressed. Every two to four weeks, she would check in to the hospital, where she felt safe and got the social interaction she longed for. Since going to the Adult Day Program in April at Dr. Li’s suggestion, the woman has stayed out of the hospital and, most importantly, she is enjoying her life much more.
Dr. Li praises the program’s staff for their ability to manage medically complex patients, as well as focus on every individual’s interests in order to keep them engaged and returning often.
She tells the story of another patient whose wife was his primary caregiver. Dr. Li recognized that as her patient’s abilities declined, his wife was getting caregiver burnout. Because of the man’s size—well over 6-feet-tall—his wife had trouble getting him out of the house. The staff at Riverside not only handled transportation, but also welcomed him, discovered his passion for sports and quickly introduced him to others who shared his interests. Although he was reluctant to go at first, now he looks forward to getting out and being part of this new community of friends.
“And it is such a huge thing for the wife that he is able to get out of the house for a few hours a day and she can rest,” Dr. Li says. “When he comes home, she is reenergized to take care of him.”