At 11 a.m. on any given weekday, some 60 adults, mostly seniors, at Guardian Adult Day Health Care in El Sobrante will be doing a series of chair-based exercises and games. They’ve already eaten breakfast, had the newspaper read aloud to them and discussed current events. After exercise, they’ll have lunch, and play games designed to stimulate the mind. Over the course of the day, they’ll have their blood sugar levels checked, insulin and other medicines administered, attend individualized physical, speech and music therapy sessions as well as receive help with basics like going to the bathroom. This is what the Adult Day Health Care program does.
But funding for the program was cut from the state’s budget this summer, and unless a lawsuit challenging the cuts is successful, the program will disappear at the end of this year.
The Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) system, which is run by the California Department of Aging and funded by a combination of state and federal Medicaid funds, was set up to serve frail seniors and adults with physical, cognitive, and mental disabilities who, with the right combination of services, can safely live in the community, rather than in a nursing home or psychiatric institution. Adult Day Health Care centers provide not just daytime supervision, but also a combination of physical therapy, social work and nursing services.
“These are the aged, the blind and the disabled. They're people’s parents who worked their whole lives and paid into the system, and now they need help,” said Guardian director Peter Behr.
Most of Guardian’s more than 130 patients are from Richmond and nearly 90 percent are paid for by Medi-Cal. The patients served by Guardian range in age from 20 to 104 years old. They speak English, Tagalog, Hindi and Spanish. Many are seniors with some degree of dementia, many are diabetics, and almost all are low-income. Most live with family members, some live on their own, and some live in state-funded board and care group homes. But Behr says that all of them were approved for ADHC because the center combines the supervision, physical therapy, nursing and social work services they need. Without the program, he worries that they will end up unable to get those services.
But the California state budget passed in June eliminated the Adult Day Health Care program; the program is currently slated to end on December 1. The program costs the state about $169 million per year, or $36 per patient per day for the over 35,000 ADHC patients, which was matched by federal Medicaid funds.