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Dignified Day Offers Recreational Programs for Seniors, Dependent Adults While Giving Caregivers a Break

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

MARY CATON, WINDSOR STAR

Published on: September 28, 2016 | Last Updated: September 28, 2016 7:38 PM EDT

James got to conduct an exploding volcano science experiment and make some homemade play dough.

As one of the first clients at a new centre for seniors and dependent adults called Dignified Day, James absolutely loved both activities. A quiet middle-aged man with intellectual challenges, James lives in a long-term care facility but his family was looking for additional outlets that would appeal to his interests.

The private Walker Road centre opened in late August under the stewardship of sisters Stephanie Moore and Erin White, both of whom work in local long-term care homes.

Moore is a Red Seal chef and a nutrition manager while White, who earned a master’s degree in gerontology at McMaster University, works in recreational and restorative programming at several facilities. Both share a passion for elderly and dependent adults.

They originally kicked around the idea of establishing their own long-term care home but startup costs were prohibitive.

“So we started thinking about what else we could do that would provide this kind of care,” said Moore, 29. 

Their parents noted how adult daycare programs are quite prevalent in Florida with its aging population.

“With people coming from other cities to retire here, Windsor is becoming that same way,” Moore said.

There is one other private organization offering adult day programs in conjunction with the Victoria Order of Nurses of Windsor and Essex County, and the Alzheimer Society has programs specifically geared to those with dementia.

“Daytime caregiving is very important,” said Larry Duffield, the local chair of the Canadian Association of Retired Persons. “To be able to leave a loved one while you do a few errands is extremely important, and then there’s the whole idea of socialization for seniors and keeping them occupied.”

The walls at Dignified Day are painted in warm inviting colours. Comfy chairs surround a corner TV unit and a tabletop shuffleboard awaits its next challengers. 

Moore and White wanted their space to be inviting, not cold and institutional. And they wanted the flexibility to offer programming tailored to each individual client.

Once White met James, she wanted to offer him “fun things you’re never going to do in a long-term care facility” — hence the gooey science experiments over the more standard fare of puzzles and crafts.

“We can personalize their daily programs,” said White, 24. “We want to provide alternative programming.”

Another client, Janette, enjoys chatting with Moore over a cup of tea at the kitchen counter. A senior in her 80s, Janette comes for the chance to interact with others.

“Home care is great but you don’t get the socialization,” White said. “We want people making friends here.”

“We want to be a place where they want to come and look forward to coming here,” Moore added.

Right now, the facility offers full day or half-day programs Tuesdays and Thursdays but Moore and White can make another weekday work if that meets the needs of a client.

A continental breakfast and hot lunch are included in the price, which starts at $75 per day or $45 for four hours. The sisters also installed a specialized walk-in tub so they can also offer bathing services.

“We can’t fix everything but we want to make people happy while they’re here,” White said. “We hope to continue to grow and get more clients so we can make that difference in their lives.

“We know we both have a passion for this.”

mcaton@postmedia.com

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