Plans for a long-awaited senior day care center, derailed five years ago by county budget cuts, are back on track in El Dorado Hills.
The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors last month agreed to allocate $265,000 for the 2013-14 fiscal year to equip and staff a program to serve up to 24 seniors.
Space has been set aside for the program within the El Dorado Hills Senior Center, which opened in the former fire station at Lassen Lane and El Dorado Hills Boulevard in 2007.
The county has offered senior day care services in Placerville for 24 years and was poised to launch a program in El Dorado Hills in 2008, but the expansion fell victim to the recession.
"I'm very thankful that the county has seen fit to go ahead and fund this," said Hal Erpenbeck, who represents the El Dorado Hills area on the county's Commission on Aging. "It's definitely needed."
He anticipates it will be about five months before the program opens. County staff members last week were preparing to apply for a state license for the site.
Erpenbeck said the El Dorado Hills program was backed by all 13 members of the Commission on Aging and has received strong support from the community.
Supervisor Ron Mikulaco, who represents the El Dorado Hills area, said the $265,000 in county funding includes about $45,000 for one-time expenses, such as furniture and an alarm system for the day care facility. Costs after the startup year are expected to be between $210,000 and $220,000 annually, he said.
Wanda Demarest, program supervisor for the senior day care program in Placerville, said between 47 percent and 50 percent of the the 32 spots available there are typically filled by people from the El Dorado Hills and Cameron Park areas.
The average age of clients is 82, Demarest said, but the program is open to people 18 and older who have physical or mental disabilities. Although some clients are physically frail, most have some form of dementia.
"It's a slow, progressive disease," Demarest said. "There's a lot of life to live after you get a diagnosis."
The day care center provides a comprehensive plan of care tailored to individual needs and it is adjusted as those needs change, she said.
Therapy programs focus on walking or gait, balance and speech. Other activities include dancing, sing-alongs, crafts and watercolor painting that offer opportunity for exercise and socialization.
A county staff report cites 2013 California Department of Aging statistics that indicate 11,735 El Dorado County residents are 75 or older, and the county's population is aging as a whole. The staff report estimates that the El Dorado Hills Senior Day Care Center will open with an immediate need to serve 16 clients and increase to 20 during the current fiscal year.
Because the the Placerville day care center has been operating at or near capacity, the county has not been actively advertising the program, said Jan Walker-Conroy, interim director of health and human services.
Expanding the program to El Dorado Hills, she said, will open up spots in the Placerville program, which she predicted will be quickly filled.
"It's not just for the seniors, it's for the caregivers," Erpenbeck said.
The Placerville center provides care from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Fees range from $45 to $53 per day, depending on the number of days per week a person participates in the program and the level of care required. Transportation to and from the center is available for an additional charge through El Dorado Transit.
The need to reduce transportation time is one reason a center closer to the El Dorado Hills-Cameron Park area is crucial, Demarest said, noting that some clients currently spend nearly an hour in transit each way.
For the majority of clients, the day care center is a source of respite care, providing family members or other caregivers much needed breaks.
"It makes a huge difference in our participants' lives," Demarest said. "The quality of life goes up for both them and their caregiver. Their cognition improves. They feel very successful here."
The program makes participants feel needed, Demarest said. Those who like to be helpful have an opportunity to help others.
Erpenbeck said he also is looking to the community to help equip the day care center. Among items needed, he said, are a big-screen TV, tables and chairs, an alarm system, and a commercial washer and dryer.
Anyone wishing to make a donation can call Erpenbeck at (530) 677-5533 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.