Article by Jennifer Dodge. Originally published in Whatcom Talk on Jan. 23, 2017.
The daily bus arrives with members of Northwest Adult Day Health & Wellness Center (NWADH). The connection and comradery is apparent as they sit and enjoy their coffee and snack before the day begins at the center.
Northwest Adult Day Health & Wellness Center, located in Lynden on Aaron Drive just off Bender Road and a part of Christian Health Care Center, provides specialized care for adults and individuals with long-term illness and disabilities.
“Our members truly notice when someone they care about isn’t there,” says Kevyn Avery, MSW/MHP social worker for NWADH. “The relationships formed here are significant to each one of them and those relationships can help improve their quality of life.”
With a goal of helping to keep people living at home as long and as comfortably as possible, NWADH provides activities and healthcare services that work to build strength and maintain independence through cognitive and physical stimulation.
The program starts with a 20-minute walk to music, at individual paces that are monitored by the onsite nurse and an occupational therapist.
“There’s always an extra set of eyes,” says Avery of the caring oversight provided by the professional staff during the day.
And, throughout the morning, adults participate in cognitive exercises like word associations and number games along with reminiscing discussions on such topics as travel and hobbies.
The beautiful grounds around the adult day health facility also provide a place for outdoor activities, including a walking path, when the weather is good. Each day, if the weather is good, a veteran in the program raises the flag on a pole at the center.
Physical activities include games such as horseshoes. Seated and standing endurance exercises and even stationary biking are also part of the wellness program.
Each adult day health program member is monitored as therapeutic goals are set and reached based on individual needs. Staff also work with families to understand members’ hobbies and passions so that they can work them into the program.
After a nutritious lunch, special programs are always a fun part of the day and feature a musician or a presentation or even animals visiting from the Whatcom Humane Society.
Mary goes on to describe the special training and certification that each staff person involved with the program directly must undergo for the enhanced mobility program. Northwest Adult Day Health & Wellness Center has an onsite RN, social worker, occupational therapist and assistant occupational therapist which differentiates it from local senior centers.“The goal of adult day health is to keep individuals at their highest functioning level for the longest amount of time,” says Mary Faber Wynstra, manager of NWADH. “The program is very intentional in a very intentional order.”
The facility also includes a healthcare room with a bed for resting and accommodations for tasks such as blood glucose testing, wound care, foot care and any other minor medical needs that the onsite registered nurse is able to treat.
With a nurse on site, communication with doctors and families about any medical concerns is fast and effective as the nurse is able to work directly with physicians regarding concerns.
“We are often able to catch health issues before they worsen,” says Avery.
Avery also describes the ongoing interaction staff has with the families of program members. Each staff member is assigned a client which means continuous individual care and attention to each member in the program.
“Working with families, we’re able to educate them about the natural progression of any aging or diseases our members may have,” says Mary. “We help them see and plan for the next steps as needed.”
Northwest Adult Day Health & Wellness Center staff communicate directly with families about anything that may be changing with their loved one, both positive and concerning. By monitoring health and wellness during their time at NWADH, they are able to reduce the number of emergency room and doctor visits.
NWADH works closely with individuals and families who are providing care for their loved one at home. Their Caregiver Connection meetings provide continuing education for caregivers while also offering those caregivers a chance to engage with others who are also caring for a loved one.
That networking of resources, both between organizations and families is key to creating and finding those next steps beyond NWADH, Wynstra continues, and that networking is an important part of supporting program members and their caregivers.“Creating really strong partnerships is the name of the game,” Wynstra explains about working with family caregivers, medical practitioners and other local adult care resources. “We frequently speak with others about partnerships and collaboration opportunities.”
Volunteer opportunities are available at the adult day health center as well – providing a great way to give back and engage with members. Opportunities from helping with art or music programs to one-to-one visits to sharing hobbies to helping at NWADH’s transportation hub in Bellingham, volunteers get the unique opportunity to interact with the wonderful members.
Families and caregivers are encouraged to take a tour of the center and meet with staff to see what Northwest Adult Day Health & Wellness Center has to offer their loved one.
“We want this program to be anything the member needs it to be,” says Avery. “Some call it their club, some call it their school or even work, and that works for us.”