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Adult Day Services celebrates

with Veteran's Affairs contract

By Sandy Broughton

Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 04 - September 18, 1997

Virginia Tech Adult Day Services has signed a contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs and will be working in affiliation with the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salem, to provide day services to veterans in the New River Valley. Eligibility for care will be determined by the physical and financial status of the individual.

The VA contract makes Virginia Tech Adult Day Services one of the first such programs in an academic setting to work with the VA, according to Samantha Painter-Willard, director of Tech Adult Day Services.

Virginia Tech Adult Day Services is celebrating National Adult Day Services Association Week this week by offering informational displays and pre-scheduled tours of the facility at 102 Wallace.

"One of the challenges adult day centers continue to face is the need to increase public awareness and to promote the important role adult day services play in providing care options," Painter-Willard said. "It is a growing field, but one that is growing slowly. People need to know that they have this option, to provide socialization for dependent adults and respite for care-givers."

Virginia Tech Adult Day Services is a part of the College of Human Resources and Education at Virginia Tech. It opened in 1992 as the second university-based adult-services center in the United States. Last spring it changed its name from Adult Day Care to Adult Day Services, in line with a national trend to more accurately reflect the services provided. "The term `day care' has negative connotations for many people, because they associate it with baby-sitting. What we do is provide services to adults unable to be alone during the day. That includes social, cultural, and educational activities, therapies, leisure activities, and friendship and support in an environment that is safe and comfortable. Many of our clients come not just for health reasons, but for socialization," Painter-Willard said.

"It helps bring meaning to their lives and keep them mentally active. We promote independence as much as possible. And we try to make the setting as homelike as possible, with coffee and newspapers in the morning, hot lunch and snacks." Activities include gardening, music, story telling, games, daily exercise, cooking, field trips, music, and plant and pet therapy. The adult clients also interact with children from the Virginia Tech Child Development Laboratory in the new intergenerational space that connects the two units. In addition, the adults interact with child care providers in the community, such as the Children's Nest and Rainbow Riders. "It's great being able to be affiliated with Virginia Tech and the community. We are able to tap into so many resources for the adults," Painter-Willard said.

The cost of Adult Day Services is $30 per day, with Medicaid reimbursement for 93.3 percent of the cost for those who are eligible. The service is available five days a week, 50 weeks a year. Many clients are referred through social-service agencies, churches, or health-care providers. Clients are provided individualized plans for care, accommodations for special diets, health monitoring, and assistance in transportation. Support groups for caregivers and family members are also available. Virginia Tech Adult Day Services is licensed to serve 18 adults and currently has 13 enrolled, ranging in age from mid-30s to seniors.

The university setting of Virginia Tech Adult Day Services also provides a unique opportunity for teaching, research, and community service. Many undergraduate students do field study or service-learning projects with Adult Day Services. "We attract students from many different disciplines: sociology, property management, family studies, psychology, mechanical engineering, exercise science. I think the students like to see how real people in the real world do things and what their needs are," Painter-Willard said.

Four graduate students work with Adult Day Services, and students from New River Community College, Radford, and the College of Health Sciences in Roanoke also have participated in the center. Last semester, Adult Day Services worked with and trained 22 students.

For more information about Virginia Tech Adult Day Services, or to arrange for a tour of the facility, call Painter-Willard at 1-3161 or e-mail at spwillrd@vt.edu. Informational displays will be available in Wallace Hall during National Adult Day Services Week, through September 21. Information is also available via the Internet at http://www.chre.vt.edu/~/fcd/adc.htm1.