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A Home Away From Home

– Saint Peter’s Adult Day Center –

June 1, 2013 Saint Peter's Healthcare System Community Calendar Featured Article.

Games, art, music, even a wash and set followed by a little tender loving care from man’s best friend, are served up Monday through Friday at the Saint Peter’s Adult Day Center in Monroe Township. In the caring hands of the specially trained staff, clients with physical or cognitive challenges such as dementia are provided the compassion and medical attention that has been the hallmark of care for more than a century at Saint Peter’s University Hospital. In this brightly-colored spacious center, clients – and their caregivers – find a home away from home. With the expansion of its free curb-to- curb transportation services, the center now extends its reach to the communities of East Brunswick, Old Bridge, Helmetta, Spotswood, and South River.

Home Away From Home

A typical day at the center begins with a nutritious breakfast, followed by wellness checks and therapy, if prescribed by a client’s primary care physician. The morning stretch follows, and as with all exercises and programs, is tailored to the client’s needs and abilities. The day includes lunch and small- and large-group activities. In addition to daily recreational activities, nursing services range from blood pressure checks to medication management. Transportation to and from local doctor and therapy appointments can be provided, if needed. Podiatry services, as well as physical and occupational therapy, and social service counseling also are available to clients.

In recent months, under the direction of Michele Lardieri, CALA, CDP, MBA, the program has expanded its services to include more enrichment activities for its clients. Last month, the center expanded its offering of art activities thanks to a grant from the Wallerstein Foundation that made it possible to launch the Art of the Masters program with Creative Notions, LLC. Following lectures about specific artists, clients will work to create art in the medium used by the month’s featured artist, including ink, pastels and clay. “This program is about creating art that fits into the lives of our clients and enables them to experience the positive benefits of creative expression,” says Lardieri, a certified dementia practitioner.

The center is also the recipient of a Gannett Foundation grant that was used to launch the Snoezelen Program – a multisensory program for clients with dementia. With the aim of providing a sense of accomplishment and boosting self-esteem while providing relaxation, clients are guided through activities using music that mimics sounds found in nature, aromatherapy and fiber optics. Other activities include a review of current events, weekly trips to the store, library, farmer’s market, and park or the occasional luncheon outing. WiiTM tournaments take place on a regular basis and a Yiddish Club and Men’s Group have been created for clients. For those wishing to take part in faith-based activities, there is a religious service every first Friday of the month and a Rosary Club. The center also has a full- service salon where cuts, blow-outs, hair coloring services, perms, and manicures are available.

“We all need a little pampering, and what better way to get some than to get a new hairdo or a hair cut while sipping tea and chatting with new friends,” says Lardieri.

The center has been a community fixture for 16 years and counting. When the facility was renovated in 2008, it set a new standard in New Jersey, a one-of-a- kind experience that includes medical care in the adult day care setting. Warm, rich colors, comfortable chairs, designated soothing quiet areas, and a media center help to make clients feel secure and at home. “Our clients’ families tell us that this makes all the difference in the world,’’ says Lardieri.

When everyone has gone home for the day, the center becomes a community resource hosting physician lectures and health and wellness programs designed to provide education, support and advocacy for the community and healthcare professionals. The center is planning to present three new much-in-demand programs – Behavioral Symptoms Associated with Dementia, Understanding Dementia and the Role of the Caregiver, and a retreat for caregivers that will feature massage and aromatherapy. These presentations, as has been the case with others, will include the opportunity for healthcare professionals to earn continuing education credits. Admission to such programs is always free and refreshments are always served, but registration is required.

The Adult Day Center is located at 200 Overlook Drive, Pondview Plaza, Monroe Township. If you would like a tour and complimentary lunch at the facility or to schedule a FREE half-day experience, call (609) 655-6853.