WesleyLife has a secret it would much rather shout from the rooftops: Its adult day center in the Des Moines metro, Dahl Adult Day on the Wesley Acres campus, is the best of its kind in the nation.
That's not just WesleyLife's opinion: The National Adult Day Services Association last month named Dahl Adult Day its pick for 2017 Outstanding Adult Day Center.
But the challenge, according to the center's director, seems to be: Families that could likely benefit from adult day often have never heard of it, or have no idea what adult day involves.
"Once someone finds out what we have to offer, they always end up wondering why they didn't take advantage of our services sooner," director Maria Jordan said. "We can provide so much help in so many situations to improve the lives of our participants and their families."
Maria said typically, Dahl Adult Day participants are older adults who live with family members because of health-related needs. They benefit from involvement with others in a safe and enriching setting while those family members are at work or need respite time.
Many have memory challenges -- a situation that is welcomed by the center, as its programming specializes in memory support.
"You don't have to have memory challenges to take part in our programming, but families that are in that situation can be confident that their loved ones will be safe here, and that they'll always be treated with kindness and respect," Maria said. "Recognizing and affirming the dignity of every individual is important to us. We treat our participants like they're members of our own families."
The center's services are affordable. Most often, fees are paid for by participants or their families, but grant funding is also available. Services are also tailored to individual needs, Maria said.
“We take time to get to know our participants -- their special interests, their challenges, how they like to spend their time," Maria said. "This approach encourages an environment where our participants are able to live life in a meaningful way."
Maria is quick to point out that adult day isn't "babysitting." Programming is robust and includes -- but is not limited to! -- exercise, music, presentations by community speakers, cooking classes, creative arts projects, and day trips to nearby attractions and events.
"It's not just, 'Oh, we'll make sure nothing happens to your mom or dad while they're with us,'" Maria said. "We want them to have fun, to make connections, to look forward to coming here."
In nominating Dahl Adult Day for the award, Carolyn LeWarne, whose mother was a participant in the program, praised the center for its “forward-thinking” approach to service.
"Its programming is absolutely invaluable to families and caregivers," she said.
Rob Kretzinger, CEO of WesleyLife, said the center’s initiatives demonstrate vision and set the stage for the way an enriching adult day program should look and function.
“At WesleyLife, our philosophy is to strive to keep older adults engaged in life, and this philosophy is the core value that allows WesleyLife to innovate and enhance the quality of every program and initiative for our residents,” Rob said. “The dedication of Maria and her team allows programming that enhances purpose and meaning in the lives of each individual we serve."
Rob added that WesleyLife’s network of services -- including short-term rehabilitation, meals, transportation, home health, personal services, and hospice services, as well as seven Communities for Healthy Living -- sets it apart from other organizations that offer adult day and helps ensure participants can receive the services they need during any stage of life.
Dahl Adult Day is accepting new participants. To learn more and/or arrange a tour, call Maria at (515) 271-6701.