By MELINDA WILLIAMS
When Linda Davis started working with a local group several years ago to establish an adult daycare program in Pulaski County, she hoped it would benefit her mother who was developing dementia.
Unfortunately, Davis’ mother passed away before the program and facility could come to fruition, but others in her shoes may not have to suffer the same fate. If Pulaski County receives a $700,000 Community Development Block Grant on behalf of Pulaski Adult Daycare and Fall Prevention Center, the former Newbern Elementary School will be remodeled to house the facility.
“My hope was that the facility would be open before she passed because she would have greatly enjoyed it and it would have preserved her abilities and pleasure of life much longer,” Davis said of her mother.
But it’s not only the clients who would benefit from the daycare program, according to Gary Coble of Shiloh. For Coble, it would mean peace of mind that his mother-in-law will be cared for while he and his wife are at work.
Coble said his mother was, luckily, able to care for his father, who developed Alzheimer’s before dying. Nonetheless, he said it would have been nice if there had been a place in the county where she could have taken his father for the day to give her a break from being a caregiver.
Since he and his wife have to work, Coble said his mother-in-law has to be taken to an adult daycare facility in Giles County. “For an 88-year-old lady that has Alzheimer’s, 45 minutes is a long way to go one way,” he told members of Pulaski County Board of Supervisors Monday night.
He said an adult daycare facility is “much needed” in the county, noting that he personally knows of several other individuals who were using facilities in Giles County or at Virginia Tech, “but they’re no longer able to ride that far so they can’t go.”
According to information provided Monday night the only facilities offering adult daycare in the New River Valley are in Giles and Wythe counties, at Virginia Tech and in Roanoke.
“We’re just hoping each and every day that my mother-in-law will still be able to go (to Giles County) …,” said Coble. He said the sooner Pulaski County can have a facility operating, the better it will be for everyone.
According to Jennifer Wilsie with New River Valley Planning District Commission, if the grant is received, the county school board will turn Newbern school over to the county, which will then lease it to Pulaski Adult Daycare, a nonprofit agency.
While the facility’s clients would primarily be people who live and work in Pulaski County, Wilsie said clients from outside the county would not be turned away. The agency is seeking licensure from Virginia Department of Social Services for 30 participants, but she said that could be more than 30 people since one participant may come only two days per week and another one only three days per week.
J.D. Price of the architectural and engineering firm OWPR Inc. said only about half of the more than 13,000-square-foot school would be renovated initially. Plans call for the remaining area to be used for future growth.
Price estimated the cost of the project at $705,753.
Assistant County Administrator Robert Hiss said the county will provide a $25,000 cash match to be used for window replacement in the building. He said the only cost the county would have “going forward” would be maintenance of the HVAC and electrical systems. He said he has been a “stickler” about keeping the county cost to a minimum.
Beverly Puckett from Max Creek asked the board of supervisors to support the grant application, saying “It’s such a good service.” She said she knows many people who have had to quit work in order to care for a loved one rather than put them in a nursing home.
“It will be a phenomenal facility because it will have activities for participants,” she said. “They’re going to get lots of attention.”
Speaking not only as a county resident, but also as “someone who could have greatly benefited from having a daycare facility for an in-law, New River Valley Agency on Aging Director Tina King said she receives many calls from people needing adult daycare services so they can continue to work. “Of course, the answer is that there isn’t anything local,” she said. “It’s not feasible or practical to expect someone at that functioning level to travel to Giles County, Virginia Tech or Wythe County.”
She also noted that the Fall Prevention center is needed because of the prevalence of falls in the older population and the fact falls can lead to broken hips and, sometimes, even death.
Davis noted the facility will have an educational benefit to the community as well, by providing clinical hands-on training for nursing, medical and social services students in that NRV.
Alecia Stanley, who grew up in Newbern, told the board the “most exciting” aspect of the facility to her is its location. She said she has seen adult daycare facilities in cities that are in buildings with no views or ways for participants to go outside.
“That building on top of that hill in Newbern is the perfect place … I wish I had had it for my mother because she would have been able to stay in Newbern a lot longer. It’s the perfect place and it’s something we need desperately,” she said.
Terri Stuart from Massie District called the program a “personal issue” for everyone because it’s very likely everyone will at some point in their life know someone who needs such a program so the caregiver can continue to work to provide for their family.
“While the majority of county citizens can’t afford to bear the cost of expensive private care, the person who needs the care and the caregiver deserve the services, no less,” she said.
Although most of the discussion Monday night centered around daycare services for elderly adults, Puckett noted that any adult needing daycare can participate, such as those with debilitating diseases or other types of disabilities.
The board voted unanimously to authorize county staff to fill out the appropriate documents to seek the grant.
However, before accepting a grant, Massie District Supervisor Andy McCready said the county needs to work out an agreement with the daycare operator that would set aside a pool of maintenance funds for the building after the center becomes operational.
Supervisors Chairman Joe Sheffey said, “There’s definitely a need” for the facility. He thanked the daycare group for attempting to address that need.