Polk adult day care facility now open

Published 8:10 pm Monday, December 13, 2010

Local caregivers of elderly loved ones have a new resource for help.

Life Care Polk County, a new adult day care facility located in the Don and Betsy Freeman building on Carmel Drive in Columbus, opened last Thursday.

This has really been exciting branching off in Polk County, said Life Care Polk County Program Director Christy Beddingfield. This has been the only adult day care that weve known of that has been a cooperative effort with a county and thats something to be proud of.

The center opened last Thursday, Dec. 9, with six participants. Two participants were there on Friday morning, and more were expected in the afternoon.

Participant Carolyn Outlaw said she is having a really good time and the staff is wonderful.

Ive got nothing but good things to say, Outlaw said as she painted a Christmas tree ornament to hang on the tree.

Participants at the center can take part in a variety of activities, including crafts, personal care, singing, devotion, cooking, pet therapy and, during the warmer months, gardening.

The center feeds participants a light breakfast, lunch catered by the adjacent Meeting Place Senior Center and a light afternoon snack. Life Care Polk County also gives participants showers and medication.

Its wonderful, Beddingfield said. We try to keep them busy all day.

The staff currently includes Beddingfield, RN Kristen Bullman, LPN Sherrie Beam, direct care staff Louise Deyton and&bsp; part-time social worker Kim Cole. Volunteers also help at the center.

The center has not yet begun hiring as it is currently going through a trial opening. Currently 16 participants are enrolled, with some beginning now and others set to begin after the holidays. Life Care Polk County is licensed for 24 participants per day, but can enroll more than 24, because some participants come only on certain days of the week.

After several years of discussing the need for adult day care services in Polk County, commissioners contracted with Rutherford Life Services last year to run the center. Rutherford Life Services has a sister adult day center in Rutherford County. The organization has been providing services for disabled participants for more than 40 years and has run adult day care centers for the past 10 years.

Life Care Polk County will take both ambulatory and non-ambulatory participants with both physical and mental disabilities, including dementia and Alzheimers patients. The center is equipped with locked doors and gates and trained staff to handle needed medical care. Beddingfield said if people are not bedridden, they probably qualify.

The center takes private pay and long term care insurance payments, and some Medicaid programs will cover the costs of adult day care. Rutherford Life Services and a Polk County group also have grants and donated funds to help participants who need the service but cannot afford it.

In the 10 years the center has been open in Rutherford County, weve never turned anyone down, Beddingfield said. We try to find a way.

Beddingfield said she cant say enough about all the people who helped Polk County create a center that would provide a service to prevent caregivers from having to place loved ones in nursing homes who do not wish to go.

Beddingfield said the opening of the center was made possible by many people, including Betsy Freeman, the Polk County Board of Commissioners, Polk County Manager Ryan Whitson, the Polk County Department of Social Services, Meeting Place Director Pam Doty and the Cannon Foundation and Janirve Foundation, which gave grants to fund the furniture, outdoor gazebo and swings.

Beddingfield said since the center opened last Thursday, shes already seen caregivers get the relief they need.

Its good to see because we finally see caregivers take a breath, she said.

According to the National Alzheimers Association, 40 percent of caregivers will die before the Alzheimer’s patient does.

The center is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Anyone interested in the service is urged to call 828-894-2007.

The staff said they are happy to come to homes or organizations to meet with Polk residents and tell about the programs and how to get involved.