Intouch Adult Day Services
Keeping Adults at Home and Families Whole
Eye on LSSI, Spring 2006 ( Download PDF of entire publication)
Lying in his hospital bed, John O’Donnell again asks his son Mike if he has called “the company” about his missing a few days of work.
Mike assures his 75-year-old father that everything is fine, that his position at the company is secure and that everyone understands that he will be returning to work as soon as he can.
“The company” that John refers to is no ordinary firm. Rather, it is Intouch Adult Day Services in Moline, where John and other seniors and adults with special needs spend part of their week in a safe, secure environment.
A program of Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI), Intouch Adult Day Services is the largest adult day service in Illinois. It provides adults who live with medical and psychological challenges the opportunity to maintain their residences in the community, while providing peace of mind and respite to their caregivers.
“Intouch Adult Day is many things to many people,” says Toni Hunter, director, noting that the center serves a diverse clientele who range in age from 18 to 98 years.
“For some, it is simply a place to go to socialize with their peers,” she says. “For others who have mental or psychological challenges that require medical monitoring, it is a supervised environment.”
No matter why clients come to it, Intouch Adult Day is a vital part of the lives of the more than 200 people enrolled, as well as countless others who are provided respite from their caregiving responsibilities.
Serving Adults with Different Needs
Intouch Adult Day offers three primary programs: Active Adults, Special Touch and the Community Helpers Program (ChiPs).
Active Adults serves individuals who are more independent and able to take part in the broad variety of activities at Intouch. The Special Touch Unit is focused on serving those individuals who have Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. It is divided into four units, based on the individual’s functional abilities, and provides a small, intimate environment. The staff is committed to providing professional, personalized attention and meaningful activities for all participants.
“Our most recent addition is our ChiPs group,” says Hunter. This program evolved “when it was brought to our attention there is a lack of supervised settings for individuals in the community who had sustained brain injuries after the age of 18. This is our youngest and most productive group. They spend a portion of their day doing a variety of projects, from recycling pop cans to making items to sell in our gift shop.”
Hunter notes that the group uses the money it earns for outings into the community. As a result, members of the group can be found “at the pizza parlor, bowling alley or at a museum, to name a few of their haunts,” she says.
Providing Respite for Caregivers
Respite for family members who act as caregivers is a valuable component of Intouch.
When Jackie Atkinson’s husband Mike retired in 1995, the couple was looking forward to Jackie’s retirement in a few years so that they could travel. Instead, Mike was stricken with an autonomic disorder that dramatically changed the couple’s plans and lifestyle.
“Mike is very slow at giving up things,” Jackie says. “He keeps trying to be the same Mike. It’s important that he have some say in his life. … It’s hard [for me] to see him declining. I get upset; he doesn’t. I’m amazed he stays so ‘up.’ Mike has never said ‘Why me?’ He is just always grateful for each new day.”
Because he is an extremely social person, it is important for Mike to get out of the house. At Intouch, Mike is able to discuss issues of the day during the program’s “News and Views” session, and he particularly enjoys the afternoon music group.
“It makes me feel good when I pull away from [dropping Mike off for the day at] Intouch,” Jackie says. “I don’t have to worry about his safety. Intouch allows us to be together. I don’t want to sit in a nursing home. I don’t want to visit him. I want to stay [and live] with him.”
A Typical Day at Intouch
Every weekday morning, Intouch buses leave the facility about 8:15, traveling throughout the Quad Cities to pick up participants who otherwise would be home alone or in a nursing home. The buses are equipped with hydraulic lifts to assist those in wheelchairs. And there’s always a hot cup of coffee waiting when the bus passengers arrive at Intouch.
Mornings at the center are busy, and participants can choose to attend activities such as sittersize, ceramics, sewing, garden club or current events group. Afternoon activities vary from day to day, but bingo and musical groups are favorites among the participants.
At Intouch, outings are a big focus, and Intouch clients may opt for a trip to an area restaurant, museum or botanical garden. Regular outings help to keep participants active and connected with their community.
For Charlotte Hammons, coming to Intouch was a way to learn about the community. Charlotte moved to the Quad Cities from Chicago to be closer to her daughter, Gertrude Braud. But while she enjoyed living near her daughter, she needed more companionship. Then, her family learned about Intouch.
“It’s helped Mother get to know people here,” says Gertrude. “Without Intouch [to come to], she would be sitting at home, alone.”
No More ‘Home Alone’
Being at home alone is a common thread that weaves through the stories of Intouch participants. As members of the Active Adults group, Don Gillman and Hazel Hessler come to Intouch to keep busy.
“I was a mess,” says Hazel. “I had lost my husband, and I was depressed.”
A former bakery manager, Hazel was used to getting up, putting on her make-up and working around people all day. Energetic and full of life, she enjoyed everything. But after her husband, who has Alzheimer’s disease, was moved to a nursing home, she found herself alone and chronically ill. Then, her doctor told her about Intouch.
“Now, I’m happy to get up in the morning,” she says. “I clean up, put on my make-up and ‘go to work.’ I call this my job, but it’s really a lot more fun than work ever was, and I’ve made a lot of good friends.”
“I’d be lost without Intouch,” says Don, who is confined to a wheelchair. He comes to Intouch four days a week. “If I didn’t come here, I would be home looking out the window [doing nothing].”
Socialization is key at Intouch, whether for the person who lives alone or with family members.
For John O’Donnell, Intouch is a place to socialize and have a routine. After he arrives each morning, John sits and greets his friends, plays a game of bunko and then goes on to exercise. After lunch, he might rest for a short time before afternoon activities. When everyone boards the buses for home, his work at the “company” begins. He folds towels and straightens lap robes, placing them carefully over the backs of recliners. Then, he moves the café chairs under the tables.
These tasks are not assigned; they are what John chooses to do while waiting for his family to pick him up. At the end of the day, when he leaves, he raises his hand in farewell and says, “See you tomorrow.” And then, like working men and women everywhere, John goes home to his family.
“If it wasn’t for Intouch, Dad would not be [living] with us,” Mike says. “With him needing 24-hour supervision, there is absolutely no way we could have [him living with us at] home.”
In 2001, John suffered a stroke, and nursing home placement was necessary. But when he improved and no longer needed the amount of care provided there, his son wanted him home with the family.
“His functions are fine, but [he] needs supervision and guidance,” Mike says. “Our last few years of life are precious. I wanted to spend as much time with him as I could. Neither my wife Julie nor I could afford to quit work. Then, we found out about Intouch. [This arrangement] never would have worked out without Intouch. We are a family again.”
For more information on Intouch Adult Day Services, call 309/797-0200.