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Adult Day Centers: Definition and services

This blog post aims to give a general understanding of the adult day centers and services offered by these. More information can be found in my master's thesis.

Originally designed to provide respite care for the caregivers of children or adults with physical or mental disabilities, and still a relatively new entity, the Adult Day Center has been steadily evolving to become an essential part of the overall support system in providing community care for various populations. Throughout Canada in each of the provinces and territories a range of facility-based services within specific communities or regions has been developing. In Quebec the senior Adult Day Center is offered as an on-site service program provider for care recipients. Here seniors can participate in group activities tailored to their needs which are conducted by trained staff, students, and volunteers (Canadian Healthcare Association, 2012).

A Senior Adult Day Center is a community resource for the senior 65-years or older providing the opportunity for the attendees to remain living at home/within the community while receiving bio-psycho-social services through the programs and activities offered (Action on Mental Illness Quebec, 2016; Minister of Quebec, 2005). The principal mental health network in Quebec directly linked to the Adult Day Centers includes the local community centers (known as CLSCs: local community services centres) that work to provide follow-up programs (Canadian Healthcare Association, 2012; Fleury, 2005).

The concept of an Adult Day Center is still young in its development, having been in existence for approximately 30 years. In 1974, in the United States of America, there were only 18 centers functioning. The 2001 survey presented by Partners in Care-giving put the number of adult day care centers at 3,493 nationwide. This same survey also indicated that at least twice as many centers are needed as are currently available. For the purpose of this inquiry the author was unable to retrieve statistics pertaining to Canadian Adult Day Centers up to an including the present date, however the National Adult Day Services Association estimates current numbers of adult day care providers at around 4,000 (Day, 2016).

The services provided by an Adult Day Center include prevention management, community health care information, and therapeutic activities focusing upon socialization, decreasing the risk of isolation, and enhancing global well-being. Consisting of a nurse, a social worker, orderlies, and other professionals from various disciplines, activities are generally offered in group settings.

The admission requirements include motor, cognitive, sensorial, and/or mental health incapacities with referral for admission coming through other community health care service providers such as day hospitals, rehabilitation centers, doctors, social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists. All participants must have an open file within the CLSC to be granted admission.

A major misconception of an Adult Day Center is it is a community center or golden age group. It is important to recognize an Adult Day Center as a health care service provider offering maintenance and support as second line community health care. For this reason, individuals diagnosed with serious mental illness are granted admission only if one or more of the previously mentioned criteria are present (Minister of Quebec, 2005).

The exclusion criteria into the Adult Day Centers of the greater urban regions of Quebec are considered, and applied, to those individuals who present disruptive behaviors which are presumed to (possibly) interfere with the attainment of group objectives. The exclusion criteria can easily cause barriers to integration and possibly enhance bias simply by its existence. It should be noted the admission/exclusion criteria for individual Adult Day Center throughout Canada and the United States is not covered by a blanket mandate, therefore, each Adult Day Centers jurisdiction will have its own inclusion/exclusion criteria.


  1. Tickner-Broadhurst, S. (2017). A Philosophical Inquiry into Music Therapy, Adult Day Centers, and Serious Mental Illness.

  2. Canadian Health Care Association. (2012).Respite care in Canada

  3. Action on Mental Illness Quebec, (2016).Navigating the healthcare system. Retrieved from

  4. Fleury, M. J. (2005). Quebec mental health services networks: models and implementation. International Journal of Integrated Care,5, e07.

  5. Day, Thomas. (2016).About adult day care. Retrieved from

  6. Minister of Quebec, (2005). Agence de développement de réseaux locaux de services de santé et de services sociaux. (2005).Les services destinés aux personnes en perte d’autonomie liée au vieillissement.Enjeux-perspectives-balises regionals.Retrieved from:


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