In Tennessee, an Adult Day Program serving 10 or more participants must be licensed by the Tennessee Department of Human Services.  Licensing helps ensure the safety and care of the adults being cared for.  Licensing requirements look at continuing education and background checks for staff.  Program staff in Tennessee Adult Day Services are trained to provide care to vulnerable adults. Education includes communication skills, providing activities, elder abuse and neglect, and first aid and CPR. Licensing requirements also look at participant to staff ratios, the organized program with activities designed to meet the participant’s needs, fire and safety inspections, and more. Announced and unannounced visits by Tennessee Department of Human Services are performed throughout the year.

Adult Day Services offer a group community based care option for individuals in need of supervision, activities, and socialization. Adult Day Services are designed to provide services in a safe environment outside the home and typically operate Monday – Friday, with hours varying among each center. Participants and their families typically attend a center 2 – 5 days a week, depending on the needs of the family.

Adult Day Services provide benefits to both the adult in need of supervision and their caregivers.  The participant receives structured programming, therapeutic activities, time with others, and a safe place to visit during the day, as well as personal care, meals and snacks.  Activities include but are not limited to, reminiscing, trivia, cooking classes, gardening, music programs, devotions, art and crafts, current events, pet therapy, intergenerational activities, and travel.  Individual care plans help program staff design activities with each participant in mind.  Some adult day programs also offer transportation to and from center, medication assistance, health screenings, caregiver support groups, and referrals to other community resources.

While participants are at an adult day service, caregivers also benefit. Many caregivers are able to continue working, if necessary, while other caregivers are able to receive respite from their daily caregiving responsibilities.  Many use the time their loved one is at the center to run errands, rest, or visit with friends and family.

While requirements for participation in Adult Day Services vary among centers, most centers require participants to be mobile, with or without the use of a cane, walker or wheelchair, the ability to transfer with minimal assistance, ability to feed oneself, take care of personal hygiene with minimal assistance, and adapt to a group setting.  Fees for Adult Day Services also vary among centers. Most centers are private pay, accept long term care insurance, or have financial assistance available. Other centers are providers for state funded programs.

Article submitted by Judith Winters, MPH, MSSW - Director of The Kay Center in Knoxville, TN. View The Kay Center's listing on