Day care provides medical, rehabilitative, and cognitive support services several hours a day for several days a week. All day care facilities provide certain core services: transportation, nutrition, and recreational and social activity programs. In the US, there are only about 2,900 day care programs compared with > 16,000 nursing homes. Most day care programs are small, averaging 20 clients.
There are several models.
Programs are increasingly accepting patients who are in wheelchairs and those who are incontinent; however, patients cannot be socially disruptive. Care may be long-term or limited in duration.
In addition to providing needed medical care, these facilities also provide respite care. By doing so, they may help delay or avoid placement in a nursing home.
Medicare does not reimburse for day care services. Funds generally come from the Older Americans Act, Medicaid waiver programs, long-term care insurance, and private funds. Some centers use donated funds to subsidize transportation and a sliding-fee scale to match aid with the patient's financial need.
Last full review/revision June 2009 by Mary Ann Anderson, PhD, RN
Content last modified February 2012