Two days after joining the National Adult Day Services Association, Paula Levy received an email with a webinar titled “So you want to open an adult day center?”
Levy, passionate about geriatric care, decided to take the leap. Since its opening in 2015, her adult day program DayBreak has helped over 64 seniors — and by extension, over 200 family members.
While the center primarily serves three counties, Park, El Paso and Teller, it also attracts people from outside the region. When one of their former participants moved to Evergreen, “for eight months, twice a month, [his family] drove him from Evergreen back to here, so he could stay connected to his community.” Levy will sometimes get calls from people in other states, inquiring about DayBreak’s services.
Because of the size of the building DayBreak operates out of — a 1,000-square-foot space — they can only accommodate five people in the program at a time. Currently, they are searching for a 3,000-square-foot space so they can triple the number of people they serve.
A sizable percentage of DayBreak’s income — around 34 percent according to a 2018-19 report — comes from fundraising. Funds go toward general operating expenses, activities, administrative needs, community outreach, contract services, facilities and equipment, nutrition services and payroll. Currently, the center has around 20 to 25 volunteers and five paid employees, four of whom are certified nursing assistants (CNAs).
DayBreak is unique in that it’s an all-inclusive center. There’s quality programming (arts, crafts and music, pet and gardening therapy), medication administration, showers, foot care, dental care, salon services and meals (from Swiss Chalet). The Mobile Community Connections Program allows DayBreak participants to attend local events and attractions: Manitou Lake, Rocky Mountain Vibes games, the farmers market, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and local school plays and games. “We’re not a babysitting place,” says Levy. “We have purpose. We have goals for each person.”
During the pandemic, DayBreak was forced to adjust their offerings. They did socially distanced home visits, Zoom activities, drive-by birthday parties, Christmas caroling and family check-ins. DayBreak lost 12 participants; five who passed away, four who moved closer to other family members who could help provide care, and three who were placed in facilities because caregivers were unable to care for them without the respite DayBreak offered.
The purpose of the program is twofold, says Levy: “It really is to give the caregiver a break in their day and their loved one a day out to have activities and the opportunity to create community — and to be among peers where they don’t have to feel like they have to perform or be under pressure to be anybody but who they are.” Centers like these help caregivers take care of their own needs which, in turn, help seniors stay out of long-term care facilities.
“Rosalynn Carter has a quote that says, ‘There are only four kinds of people in this world. Those who are caregivers, those who have been caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers,’” says Levy. “And that’s everyone in the world.”