Midland Care to open much-needed adult day care program in Lawrence

Hazel Thomas, 90, plays dominoes with her daughter-in-law Sonja Wood, at Sonja's home in Lawrence. Since the adult day program closed in Lawrence in 2008, Thomas has taken a daily trip to Topeka to Midland Care Connection's adult day health program. Midland is ready to open a new adult day program Monday in North Lawrence, and Thomas will be able to be closer to home.

Hazel Thomas, 90, plays dominoes with her daughter-in-law Sonja Wood, at Sonja's home in Lawrence. Since the adult day program closed in Lawrence in 2008, Thomas has taken a daily trip to Topeka to Midland Care Connection's adult day health program. Midland is ready to open a new adult day program Monday in North Lawrence, and Thomas will be able to be closer to home. by Mike Yoder

Douglas County Senior Services closed its adult day care program Oct. 1, 2008, because of county budget cuts.

It was the only adult day care program in Lawrence.

The program offered activities for seniors while their caregivers needed to work, run errands or have a respite. It helped keep seniors active and living independently in a home, instead of a facility.

“It broke my heart when they decided to close it,” said Barbara Little, who was employed with the program for 11 years and was manager for the last five years.

The closure left eight families scrambling to find other means of care for their loved ones.

“Our hair was sticking out,” said Sonja Wood, Lawrence.

She and her husband, Tom, worked full time and helped take care of Hazel Thomas, Tom’s mother. She moved in with them in 2003, and began participating in the day care program a year later.

When the program closed, Wood said their options were limited. They faced the possibility of placing Thomas in an assisted living facility or a nursing home. It was something they didn’t want to do.

“Just parking them someplace institutionally is not good for them. They will go down pretty fast that way,” Wood said.

For a short time, they used a Meals on Wheels program, so the Woods knew someone would be checking on Thomas at least once during the day when they dropped off the meal.

“It was a horrible option because she didn’t want to answer the door, and she didn’t want the door left unlocked because she was by herself,” Wood said.

Then, they learned about Midland Care Connection Inc.’s adult day health program in Topeka.

“We thought we had died and gone to heaven,” Wood said. The program provides transportation, activities, meals and medical assistance. “It’s just an amazing program. Her cognitive function has improved so much.”

At age 90, Thomas makes the trip to Topeka five days a week, leaving about 8:30 a.m. and returning about 4:30 p.m. She is driven by a Midland Care employee who uses a car or van.

New option

She makes the commute because there still is no such program in Lawrence. That is until Monday, when Midland opens an adult day health program in North Lawrence.

“We recognized that there was a need,” said Heidi Pickerell, vice president of program development.

The program will provide medical services and a variety of activities. There is a kitchen, dining room, living room, craft room, shower area and library. There also are small areas where seniors can read, visit or rest.

Little will serve as the adult day health site director, and is excited about her new job.

As she walked through the newly renovated building at 319 Perry St. in North Lawrence, she talked about the new opportunities that seniors would get with this program.

Heidi Pickerell, vice president of program development with Midland Care Connection, talks about Midland's new adult day health program  that will be located at 319 Perry in North Lawrence. Pickerell is pictured in the dining area of the newly-renovated building on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2010.

Heidi Pickerell, vice president of program development with Midland Care Connection, talks about Midland's new adult day health program that will be located at 319 Perry in North Lawrence. Pickerell is pictured in the dining area of the newly-renovated building on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2010. by Mike Yoder

Midland Care opened an Adult Day Health Center at 319 Perry in North Lawrence two years ago.

Midland Care opened an Adult Day Health Center at 319 Perry in North Lawrence two years ago. by Mike Yoder

Midland Care Connection is opening an adult day health program in North Lawrence. Pictured is an area where people can play games with a Wii video game console.

Midland Care Connection is opening an adult day health program in North Lawrence. Pictured is an area where people can play games with a Wii video game console. by Mike Yoder

Heidi Pickerell, vice president of program development with Midland Care Connections, gives a tour of Midland's adult day health program Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2010, in Lawrence. There is a shower area that will be available for participants when it opens Monday.

Heidi Pickerell, vice president of program development with Midland Care Connections, gives a tour of Midland's adult day health program Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2010, in Lawrence. There is a shower area that will be available for participants when it opens Monday. by Mike Yoder

Different programs

The Douglas County Senior Services program was held in two small rooms at the Lawrence Senior Center in downtown Lawrence, and it was capable of serving only 14 people. Little pointed to the new craft room, and said it was comparable in size.

The old program was not licensed to provide medical care.

Little said the lack of space and inability to provide medical care is why the program waned.

“The community definitely needs this type of service,” she said. “This will give them more opportunity to take control of their day, in that they can choose an activity that may be going on in any given area or to just opt out and have a quiet moment.”

Janet Ikenberry, Douglas County Senior Services’ community services program manager, agreed.

“I think with the medical model opening up, it’s going to be able to serve a wider range of clientele, and so it’s going to help a lot more people than we were able to help with our program,” she said.

The Woods are looking forward to using the Lawrence program because Thomas will be closer to home. If she has an appointment or a family activity, they can swing by and pick her up, instead of keeping her home all day.

But, Wood said the transition isn’t going to be easy for Thomas. She has become close friends with the staff and other participants in Topeka.

“She’s really sad over it,” Wood said.

At least there will be one familiar face in Lawrence.

Little has known Thomas since she used the senior services program. She also has been transporting her to and from Topeka.

“We go way back. She’s a sweetheart,” Little said.


NEW SERVICES

Topeka-based Midland Care Connection Inc. is opening an Adult Day Health program Monday at 319 Perry St. in North Lawrence.

The program will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

It is licensed by the Kansas Department on Aging, and can provide services for up to 40 people ages 18 and older.

The program will provide individualized and group activities, meals, transportation and health services.

The cost is $60 a day, and it accepts Medicaid, private pay, long-term care insurance and Veterans Affairs insurance.

There will be an open house for the public from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 15.

For more information or to enroll, call 842-3627.

Tagged: Midland Care Connection, adult day health program, seniors

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