Article by Sara Holodnick. Originally published in Whatcom Talk on April 13, 2017.
Northwest Adult Day Health & Wellness Center provides a range of services that support the physical and mental health of seniors and individuals with chronic illness. A program of Christian Health Care Center in Lynden, Northwest Adult Day Health & Wellness Center’s team provides a range of specialized programs for their members.
Valuable Therapeutic Care
These programs help older adults and people with long-term illness and disabilities build strength and maintain their independence while bringing meaning and enjoyment to each day. With opportunities for members to visit daily, Monday through Friday, these programs also offer much-needed respite to caregivers. And thanks to strong community partnerships with Whatcom Transportation Authority and Christ the King Church in Bellingham, roundtrip transportation is provided for free for many.
Northwest Adult Day Health & Wellness Center (NWADH) operated in Bellingham for 37 years but when PeaceHealth announced in 2014 that they would be discontinuing the program, clients and families weren’t sure if anyone would step up to continue the valuable service. Thankfully Christian Health Care Center in Lynden, a long-term health care facility, volunteered to take over the program. Mary Faber Wynstra, who had been employed by Christian Health Care Center for many years, became manager of the adult day health program.
“There’s always a purpose behind what we’re doing,” said Wynstra. “Our program members spend time with a therapist working on their goals and they have regular visits with our nurse.” These appointments can be incredibly valuable, offering quality preventative care that can catch illness early and even keep folks out of the hospital.
“When the opportunity to help run the adult day health program came, I jumped on it,” she shared. “Our goal is to help members stay in their homes with their caregiver for as long as possible.” The center has an occupational therapist, nurse and social worker on staff who care for members’ health and cognitive well-being.
NWADH staff gathers information from members and their families about interests and favorite hobbies. Daily activities developed around these shared interests provide meaning and enjoyment for all members. Scheduled activities include guest speakers, live music, art classes, holiday programs, travel programs, health education and group games.
“We have a lot of entertainers who come and volunteer their time with things like live music and travel slideshows,” shared Wynstra. “We have a great volunteer named Mary who comes in every week and leads an art group for us.”
Care for Caregivers
The community also shares their talents by providing valuable companionship. Volunteers at NWADH help serve coffee, visit with members and even go on walks together. “Walking and talking with our program members is a great volunteer opportunity,” said Wynstra. “Walking is always more fun with a friend!”
In addition to therapeutic care and activities for members, NWADH provides much-needed opportunities for caregivers – often family members – to have a break from the challenges of tending to their loved ones’ needs. “Most of our members come twice a week and some come five days a week,” shared Wynstra.
Program days last from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., which gives family caregivers time to run errands, go to appointments or simply take advantage of much-needed respite. The center also supports caregivers by offering Caregiver Connection support groups. “We want to help strengthen the caregiver and make sure they feel taken care of too,” Wynstra explained.
Transportation is key for getting folks from all parts of the county to NWADH’s healthcare campus in Lynden. Three vans go out to layover sites such as church parking lots to pick-up members and bring them to NWADH. Round-trip transportation to the facility from various layover sites is provided free of charge thanks to partnerships with Whatcom Transportation Authority and Christ the King Church in Bellingham.
This strong partnership with Christ the King Church in Bellingham was a critical piece for making the program accessible to clients in Bellingham. “Had they not been willing and volunteered their space and facility, it would’ve been a huge struggle for Bellingham clients to access our program. They’ve opened their doors to us Monday through Friday.” NWADH maintains a reciprocal, mutually beneficial relationship by leading a caregiver support group at the church.“
Program members who live in Bellingham are brought to Christ the King Church by paratransit buses or by their family members,” explained Wynstra. “Christ the King Church has provided a space for our members to gather while we wait for a large WTA bus to arrive. We load everyone on that bus and bring them directly to Lynden, then do the same in reverse in the afternoon.”
Northwest Adult Day Health & Wellness Center operates Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., with extended hours available. Transportation is available with pick-up locations throughout the county in Bellingham, Blaine, Everson, Lynden and Sumas. Members must be over the age of 18 and individuals with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, depression, memory loss, heart disease or stroke are encouraged to apply.
To learn more about the program visit Northwest Adult Day Health & Wellness Center’s website or give them a call at 360-306-3031. Informational tours are available.