Adult Day Care offers a variety of health and social services for one-third to one-half the cost of home care or skilled nursing care.  Adult day services are commonly referred to as “the best kept secret in long-term care.” This community-based group program offers participants and their caregivers a viable alternative to nursing home care. Experts agree that despite the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of adult day services, they remain underutilized due to consumers’ lack of awareness and inadequate reimbursement.

Adult day programs are offered in a variety of settings: in a freestanding building; on the campus of a hospital, nursing home, or assisted living facility; or in conjunction with another program, such as a home health agency.  The adult day care center setting offers stimulation and growth for participants with impairments while providing respite for families and caregivers. Based on these premises, the NADSA Standards (revised 1997) establish the following goals for adult day centers:

  • Maintain the individual’s present level of functioning as long as possible, preventing or delaying further deterioration.
  • Promote the individual's maximum level of independence.
  • Restore and rehabilitate the individual to the highest possible level of functioning.
  • Provide support, respite, and education for families and other caregivers.
  • Foster socialization and peer interaction.
  • Serve as an integral part of the community service network and the long-term care continuum.

These overall goals are coupled with each participant’s individual plan of care to maintain an optimal level of physical and mental health.

Adult day care services are delivered, most generally, in one of two program types: the social model or the medical model. The primary focus of the social model is opportunities for socialization and recreation. Such programs typically offer limited health care and rehabilitative services. Participants who attend social model programs usually enjoy fair physical health, but would otherwise lack opportunities to socialize with peers. If participants require medication during their time at the center, it is usually self-administered.

The medical model program has intensive nursing and rehabilitative services as the primary focus. Participants who attend such programs usually have multiple chronic conditions that require monitoring and/or a nursing intervention, and medication administration at least once during the day.

The types of services offered in an adult day care center vary according to whether the program is medical or social. Medical model programs offer nursing care provided by a registered nurse or a licensed practical nurse under a registered nurse’s supervision. The nursing care can include medication administration, wound dressing changes, injections, and overall health monitoring. Medical programs also provide or arrange for physical, speech, and occupational therapy. Social model programs tend to be more limited in their scope of services. They emphasize opportunities for socialization, activities, and outings. Medical model programs offer similar social programming in addition to nursing care. Additional services that are offered in both types of programs are therapeutic activities; meals and snacks with special dietary accommodations (for example, diabetic or renal diet); door-to-door transportation; social services provided by a licensed social worker; shower or bath; toileting assistance; grooming; and caregiver support.


The primary reasons for attending an adult day center are the need for socialization, the need for caregiver respite, and the need for supervision or assistance with activities of daily living. Individuals attend adult day centers an average of three to four days per week.

At Pathfinder Senior Care Consulting we can direct you on where to find an Adult Day Care facility that is appropriate for your loved one and to apply for benefits to cover the costs.

CALL THE HELPLINE FOR FREE CONSULTATION 800-640-5626.

Adult Day Care

Pathfinder Senior Care Consulting Senior Care Options in Orange County