City contracts out Day Break

Oak Harbor’s Adult Day Services and Respite Care Center, also known as Day Break, has struggled for years to maintain client and volunteer participation while dealing with financial difficulties.

Oak Harbor Senior Center Director Mike McIntyre has a solution. The city is contracting with Senior Services of Island County to run the program out of its present location, the Island Thrift-donated facility next to the Senior Center.

He predicts a big improvement. “It will be more affordable, more available, better training,” he said.

Senior Services of Island County has been running a successful adult day care program on South Whidbey for nearly a decade. McIntyre said he hopes to tap into their expertise and experienced staff to run the program more efficiently.

“It’s a very positive change,” said Jami Duchesne, the current coordinator for Day Break. She is leaving the job and moving to Texas. She said she was impressed by Senior Services of Island County, particularly adult day care director Rosemary Leahy.

“She convinced me that she cares about the people,” Duchesne said. “That’s the most important thing about this business, to care about the people and make them feel important.”

The purpose of the program, she said, is to give family members caring for elderly folks — especially those suffering from Alzheimer’s or other challenging conditions — a break from the stressful job.

In addition, the program provides socialization and activities that help clients retain their mental and physical skills to enable them to continue living in their own homes for as long as possible.

For the clients and their families, one of the biggest improvements in the restructuring will be a new sliding-scale payment system to ensure that families in all income ranges can afford to send an elderly family member to the day care.

For taxpayers, McIntyre predicts that a more efficiently-run program will cost the city much less. He also hopes to get funding and other assistance from the Northwest Regional Council. Also, he said Senior Services plans to greatly expand volunteer participation.

When the adult day care moved into the modular building in 2001, city officials predicted that the program that would become nearly self-sufficient, but that never was possible. Last year the city contributed $35,700 to the program with a total budget of about $85,000.

McIntyre proposes that the newly-designed program will cost the city less than $21,000 a year.

Day Break used to be open five days a week, five hours a day. But when McIntyre took over as director last fall, he reduced the program to just three days a week, four hours a day. He said the larger program just wasn’t sustainable.

“No other adult day care, I would say in the country, would do that,” he said, referring to the limited staffing and long hours. “It just doesn’t happen. It was over-stressing our staff and resources.”

As of June 1, the center will be open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. If there’s enough demand, he said the program will be expanded accordingly.

For more information about the program or to volunteer, call 279-4590.

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