Choosing an Adult Day Center

What Are Adult Day Services?
Adult day services are community-based group programs designed to meet the needs of functionally and/or cognitively impaired adults through an individual plan of care. These structured, comprehensive programs provide a variety of health, social, and other related support services in a protective setting during any part of a day, but less than 24-hour care. Adult day centers generally operate programs during normal business hours five days a week. Some programs offer services in the evenings and on weekends.

Who Uses Adult Day Centers?
Adult day centers are designed to serve adults who are physically, cognitively or intellectually impaired and may require supervision, increased social opportunities, assistance with personal care or other daily living activities.

A study, produced in collaboration with the National Adult Day Services Association
(NADSA) and The Ohio State University College of Social Work, (October 2010) reports that these centers serve about 260,000 people, an increase of more than 100,000 since 2002. More than half of the participants are women. Almost 17% of the participants were over 80 years old, with 30% under age 65.  ADS participants have higher levels of chronic conditions and disease, such as hypertension, physical disability, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, mental illness, and developmental disability.  Over 80% of participants attend full days and 46% attend five days per week, enabling family caregivers to remain in the workforce. Most centers provide caregiver support programs, including educational programs, caregiver support groups, and individual counseling. Overall Adult day services provide a reliable source of support, restore balance in times of crisis, and enhance overall quality of life for caregivers.

How Many Adult Day Centers Are Operating?
There has been significant growth in the number of Adult Day Services centers in the U.S. over the past eight years. Today, there are more than 4,600 Adult Day Services (ADS) centers nationwide, a 35% increase since 2002. Twenty-seven percent of centers report a private for-profit status, with almost three-quarters of all centers (71%) reported to be private non-profit (56%) or affiliated with the public or government sector (16%). There are adult day centers in every state in the United States and the District of Columbia. Since the beginning of the adult day center movement in this country in the 1970s, the number of centers operating has rapidly increased. New centers are opening their doors every day.

What Kind of Services Are Provided by an Adult Day Center?
Almost 80% of ADS centers have either a registered nurse (RN) or a licensed practical nurse (LPN) on staff. The "average" adult day center offers a wide range of services which typically include:

    • Transportation
    • Social Services
    • Meals
    • Nursing Care
    • Personal Care
    • Counseling
    • Therapeutic Activities
    • Rehabilitation Therapies 

Are Adult Day Services Regulated?
Adult day service regulations differ from state to state and also by funding source. The Standards and
Guidelines for Adult Day Care developed by the 
National Adult Day Services Association(NADSA) provide important benchmarks for states that have elected to license or certify adult day services. Funding sources also define the range of services for which they will pay while an eligible participant is at an adult day center.

Outside of the voluntary NADSA standards, there are no uniform national standards governing either the operation of centers or the qualifications of staff members although the majority of ADS centers (86%) reported that they are state-certified or licensed.

What Are the Fees Associated with Adult Day Services? 
The fees for adult day services vary, depending upon the region of the country and the range of available services provided by the center.  The fee structures of ADS centers tend to vary. The standard appeared to be full  day or flat daily fee charged regardless of the number of hours a participant attended.Funding for adult day services come from participant fees as well as public and philanthropic sources. The average cost of a day at an adult day center is a bargain--often much less than a visit from a home health nurse and about half the cost of skilled nursing facility care.

Choosing an Adult Day Center
Choosing an adult day center is a personal choice and should be undertaken with care. Please visit the Locate a Center area of this website for more information on centers available in Wisconsin.