Adult day care struggling to remain open

Published 9:44 pm Thursday, November 28, 2013

Polk’s adult day care center has taken participants on several field trips this year, including on a Lake Lure Boat tour, to Hollywild Zoo and to the House of Flags as well as keeping participants busy with activities at the center, located off Skyuka Road in Columbus. See full article on page 8. (photos submitted by Christy Beddingfield)

Polk’s adult day care center has taken participants on several field trips this year, including on a Lake Lure Boat tour, to Hollywild Zoo and to the House of Flags as well as keeping participants busy with activities at the center, located off Skyuka Road in Columbus. (photos submitted by Christy Beddingfield)

While Polk County commissioners have agreed to fund the Polk adult day care temporarily, the county is also trying to increase participants and find an alternate solution so the center can stay open permanently.

Rutherford Life Services Inc., which runs Polk’s Life Care Adult Day Health Center, announced last month that it was closing its doors. The closing was scheduled for Nov. 30 but commissioners stepped in and agreed to fund up to $3,500 a month for six months while the county finds another solution.

Rutherford Life Services Executive Director Larry Brown told commissioners reductions in funding and low enrollment numbers forced the shutdown. Brown said Polk’s center is licensed for 24 participants, but attendance has dropped to between eight and 12 people daily with 18 enrolled.

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Commissioners said the center is near and dear to them and they want it to remain open in some form or fashion, saying they believe there is a great need in Polk County.

Polk health center director Christy Beddingfield said some days, attendance has been as low as five participants.

One misconception about the center is that it only serves Alzheimer/dementia patients but that’s not the case.
Beddingfield said there are no specific requirements for who comes to the day care. Participants need to be 18 years or older, but the center accepts a wide variety of participants, including those who are wheelchair bound and people with disabilities.

“Our service is really designed to give the caregiver a break,” said Beddingfield. “We are set up to serve participants and that’s what we do.”

Statistics from the National Alzheimer’s Association show that two years ago, 40 percent of caregivers will die before the person they are taking care of passes away. This year, that number is up to 70 percent of caregivers passing away before their loved one, Beddingfield said.

“By the time they get to us, they are exhausted,” Beddingfield said.

Polk’s center provides a variety of services, including personal care such as bathing, giving medications, providing breakfast, lunch and snacks, exercise and other activities, such as doing hair and makeup for female participants.

This year participants went on a boat trip on Lake Lure, went to Hollywild Zoo and visited the House of Flags.

“To be honest, we spoil our participants,” said Beddingfield. “Anything they want to do we will do. We want them to have a better quality of life.”

Beddingfield said participants who come love it and treat the staff like their children. The center will evaluate any participant and if Polk’s center is not suitable, they will find the appropriate place for any resident. Beddingfield said another benefit to Polk’s center is that there is a nurse on staff who not only administers needed medication to give the caregiver a break but does monthly checkups so caregivers don’t have to take time off work to take their loved ones to doctors for routine appointments.

Polk’s center also will do home visits with potential participants in order to encourage residents to come to the center.

Costs are also reasonable, with the first day free in order to evaluate a participant’s needs. The center does not charge for days residents do not attend and costs range from $28 for a half day up to $56 for a full day, depending on needs. Typically, costs are $40 per day, Beddingfield said, with the maximum amount of time a day at 10 hours.

Beddingfield said just a couple of days a week is enough for some caregivers to get a break. Some participants come so caregivers can work while others may come for caregivers to be able to get a break to run errands.

Beddingfield also said the center works closely with the Isothermal Planning and Development Commission (IPDC) and other organizations for grants and other funding for participants who may not be able to afford to attend.

“In the 13 years we’ve been open in Rutherford County, we’ve never had to turn anyone away for not being able to pay,” said Beddingfield.

Rutherford Life Services has a sister center in Rutherford County with Brown saying if Polk’s center could not stay open they would work out how to get participants to the other center.

Life Care Adult Day Health Center opened in December 2011 after a unique public/private partnership. Polk County provided the building and through fundraising and grants did renovations for an adult day care. The center is located directly behind the Meeting Place Senior Center, off Skyuka Road in Columbus.

The building was named after Don and Betsy Freeman following Betsy Freeman requesting the county create an adult day care. She was the caregiver for her husband Don, who passed away before the center’s opening. Betsy Freeman spearheaded fundraising to get the center open.

Polk County has agreed to fund the center beginning in December for six months. Commissioners meet Monday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. and are scheduled to approve a budget amendment to take up to $21,000 from its fund balance for up to six months for adult day operations.

Beddingfield said she is happy to speak with churches and organizations about what the center can offer for caregivers.

To contact the center or for more information about Polk’s adult day care, call 828-894-2007.