Thirty-seven years ago, the Salvation Army started an adult day program that welcomes anyone living with a physical or neurological condition. The program strives to promote independence and empower each individual to remain in a community setting – an alternative to assisted living centers and in-home care.
The daily program has become a cornerstone of the Rochester community. It offers meals and snacks, nursing services, therapeutic recreational programming and social service assistance.
“The added expense of nursing care or assisted living when you’re living paycheck to paycheck can really put families in a difficult position when trying to help their loved ones,” said Janine Fuller, director of the Caring Partners Adult Day Program at the Rochester Salvation Army.
“Our participants come from predominantly low and moderate-income households, and this program is 5 times less expensive than nursing homes or assisted living facilities according to LeadingAge Minnesota,” she said.
Janine joined The Salvation Army in May of 2018. She has a master’s degree in health administration and has worked with elderly and disabled populations for more than 20 years, from group homes to in-home care to hospitals.
For Janine, the work is a labor of love. “Dementia especially is truly close to my heart and has made a big impact on my life. I’m glad to work for a place where 89% of our staff are certified by the Alzheimer’s Association in dementia care,” she said.
The adult day program can serve up to 60 participants, and nearly 500 volunteers have contributed 40,000 hours of time since its inception. One favorite element of the program involves therapy dogs and horses, Janine said.
“It’s amazing to see how seniors that grew up on the farm will react to seeing and interacting with horses again,” she said.
Janine says her program is always looking for volunteers to entertain and engage with program participants.
“Volunteering at a place like this teaches you about being genuine, caring and how to be a good listener,” Janine said. “There are lots of skills that come out of an experience like this.”
In the future, Janine looks forward to preparing for the program’s likely expansion and operating at full capacity on a regular basis.
“As the (senior) population increases, we want people to know that we’re here and what’s available to them if they need it,” Janine said. “We can always help to make your life as a caregiver easier, and to ensure that your loved one has the best possible quality of life.”