Working across health and social services in Algoma, it’s a privilege to meet people each and every day that show up to make the world a better place. Just such a team works at the Alzheimer Society Sault Ste. Marie & District, where the Sault and area’s Adult Day Program has recently settled in after several decades at the FJ Davey Home. This quarter, we caught up with JoAnn Cain, coordinator of the Adult Day Program, to learn more about their big move and the evolution in care that has followed.
The Adult Day Program coordinates social and recreational activities for persons living with dementia and helps support their ability to live healthier at home for longer. In addition to clinical and social benefits for persons living with dementia, this program simultaneously offers respite for caregivers. Here in the Sault, the Adult Day Program has been in operation for 31 years - and although she’s been with the program since Day 1, JoAnn Cain still loves to come to work everyday.
“When you have memory loss of any kind, you lose your social life - whether it’s by your means or your friends don’t know how to deal with the disease itself. You need to find something else - many find the day program to be their social outing.”
In its early days, the program was a collaborative effort taken on by the FJ Davey Home. Over the years, the program grew to have its own space and strong relationships with organizations in the city providing related services - including the Alzheimer Society. When it came time to make a jump, the Day Program staff were excited to move to the Alzheimer Society to join a team with aligned goals and ambitions for the care of those living with dementia and their caregivers.
Making the jump
Although the wheels were already in motion to move locations, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Adult Day Program hard. While still operating out of the FJ Davey Home, programming came to a grinding halt for many months due to long-term care restrictions.
“COVID-19 has been very hard on our clients and extremely hard on their caregivers.”
Following a year or so of intermittent modified programming, the Adult Day Program officially “opened its doors” at the new Alzheimer Society Sault Ste. Marie & District location at 61 Great Northern Rd. In the new building, JoAnn’s small but mighty 5-person team (over 100 years of experience among them) offers a full day program that includes lunch, snacks, exercise, games, and more. They see 6-10 clients a day and are working through a waiting list that attests to the program’s high demand.
Looking to the future
Five months since the reopening of the Adult Day Program, JoAnn has nothing but positive sentiments for the new facility and opportunities. The Adult Day Program aligns well with other programming at the Alzheimer Society, as both serve the same clients. While referrals previously came from Home and Community Care, 91% now come at steady pace from within the building. The Adult Day Program is thriving at the Alzheimer Society, and JoAnn credits the atmosphere, the wonderful team of people working there, and the resources and professional development opportunities now available to the program.
After successfully moving locations, the Alzheimer Society is planning for continued growth of the Adult Day Program. Over time, the team hopes to welcome 16 clients per day and are exploring ideas around night activities that would offer additional respite for caregivers.
This story is a tale of integrated care that exemplifies how innovation and working together can strengthen care in unexpected ways. When it comes to making a leap to something new, JoAnn said it best:
“As long as you know what you’re going into, you know it’s a good thing, and you know that you’re going in the right direction, jump in with both feet. I did and I don’t regret it at all.”
For more information about the Adult Day Program, please call (705) 942-2195 or visit their new location at 61 Great Northern Road in Sault Ste. Marie.