Do you ever wonder what a day at The ARK looks like or what social respite means? Respite programs give family caregivers a much-needed break from the stress of round-the-clock caregiving. Our program is a social model program (it is not medical) that keeps loved ones with memory issues connected to their community through fellowship, meaningful activities and lots of fun that enhances their independence and self-esteem.
The National Alliance for Caregiving states, “Caregivers are as diverse as the United States is as a whole: they come from every age, gender, socioeconomic, and racial/ethnic group. They share positive aspects of caregiving. They also share many struggles but can face different challenges depending on their circumstances. Caregivers may need differing support depending on their loved one’s diagnosis and needs, and their own problems, strengths, and resources”.
The ARK impacts both caregivers and the care receiver. Individuals with Alzheimer’s or related dementia (ADRD) take part in a half-day social respite program four days a week in Summerville or once weekly in Harleyville. Purposes of our services are to provide relief from day-to-day caregiving responsibilities, understanding, a shoulder to lean on, and hope for the caregiver.
“Our social respite program is a huge success because of our volunteers and the support of our community,'' states Micky Styslinger, program director at The ARK.
It’s a quarter till ten and a line of cars are lining up in the circular driveway. Each day, a staff member greets each car as our club members (participants of the social respite program) are arriving. Throughout the week, I greet caregivers as they are dropping off their care-receiver for a day at The ARK. Instantly, a smile appears on my face and theirs as I greet the first car. By ten o’clock our 14 passenger bus arrives in the driveway with care receivers who need transportation.
The ARK provides door-to-door transportation service to families. In 2018, The ARK’s shuttle bus logged 9,226 miles in the Tri-county area to bring 738 duplicated participants to the program. Total hours provided equal 9,938 hours of social respite for 2,217 care receivers/club members.
Once everyone has arrived, the club members meet in the living room and enjoy their morning treat with a choice of coffee, hot cocoa, tea or water served by dedicated volunteers. “The highlight of our day is socializing each morning with each other as we enjoy refreshments”, states Micky. During this time, Micky begins the discussion on topics of interest and reminiscing. Volunteers help engage members in the discussions. Each day is different; some of our club members might attend The ARK once or twice a week depending on availability.
For the next hour, Micky will utilize our program; It’s Never 2 Late (IN2L). IN2L is a technology program that allows us to engage the group with activities that are adapted for each club member’s ability and interest. IN2L includes hundreds of games, quizzes and programs designed to stimulate your brain. Additional activities throughout the week will include music therapy and chair exercises that promote fun and social interactions in a therapeutic setting.
During the first half of the day, the group will transition their way into our activity/lunchroom. Here is where the club will split off into stations based on activities. Each station will have a couple of volunteers to assist with the activity. Activities are varied and include creating stained glass windows, playing UNO and dominoes and therapeutic artwork or engaging in conversation with one another.
Being able to be in our new expanded house allows us the opportunity to take a small group outside in our beautiful backyard to enjoy a game of corn hole, take a casual walk or just sit under the shade trees and enjoy each other’s company while enjoying the fresh air and sunshine.
Each day, the club enjoys a nutritional lunch. Lunch is delivered by the Dorchester Senior Center home-delivered meals program. Volunteers and members of the club gather around our circular tables to enjoy a family-style lunch served on everyday china and enjoy casual conversation.
After lunch, the club will reconvene to the living room before the caregivers arrive for pick up. “While we are enjoying ourselves, the caregivers can have some time for themselves. At the end of our program, it is nice to see everyone reunite, and it is a great feeling to know that we have made a positive difference in their lives,” states Micky.
If you or a loved one is looking for more information about The ARK’s services, contact us today!