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Web Feature | Healthwise

A New Day for Adult Day Care

Leamon Wilder may be getting a reprieve.

The 95-year-old South Los Angeles resident suffers from dementia and several health problems, but he was able to remain at home thanks to the Adult Day Health Care program. But Wilder was recently told that cutbacks would force him to give up his three visits a week to a place he had come to love, a place where the staff kept him physically challenged and where he was among peers.

When state legislators went looking for ways to fill the budget gap two years ago, they made cuts to certain benefits within Medi-Cal, the government-managed health care program for low-income and disabled individuals. One of those cutbacks was the elimination of the Adult Day Health Care program.

The program has offered a way for people with serious disabilities, including traumatic brain injury and mental illness, to live at home while still getting the intensive care they needed.

The official end date was set for December 1. Staff at Graceful Senescence Adult Day Health Care Center had met with Wilder and his daughter, Gunn Leater, to go over his exit from the program and cover possible care alternatives. (Watch our segment on that here.)

But this week a settlement was reached in a lawsuit challenging the program's termination. The program can now continue, in its present form, until February 29, 2012. After that, an alternative program called Community-Based Adult Services will take its place.

"It was a sense of relief obviously that the state was not going to move forward with such an aggressive timeline — first of all for the actual elimination of adult day care, but also for any lack of a reasonable transition," said Nina Nolcox, the chief executive officer at Graceful Senescence. "I'm ecstatic they recognized it's probably not a realistic goal."

About half of the current participants in the adult day health care program are expected to move to the new CBAS program, which will carry many of the same services. The rest will receive help transitioning to other long-term care services.

The change will not be without its pains to the community, of course. Nolcox expects she'll need to do some belt-tightening of her own to keep the center open, but she expressed optimism moving forward. And the timing of the announcement made for an especially thankful Thanksgiving.

"I'm really, really excited that we're about to head into this holiday season and they have some hope that they'll be able to sustain and do what they do, and that is take care of their loved ones," Nolcox said.

As for Wilder, the outcome is still uncertain. But he and Leater now have a fighting chance.

Nolcox said that participants who fall into a category for intermediate care known as Nursing Facility Level A would appear to be eligible for the CBAS program.

"I anticipate that there is a very good chance Mr. Wilder will fit that criteria," Nolcox said.

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