There was a time when Chelsea resident Ron Kocher would just stay at home for days on end with no social interaction with the outside world. That all ended two years ago when he began attending the Don Orione’s Adult Day Care program in East Boston three days a week.
“I used to just stay home and watch T.V.,” said Kocher. “Now I come here and talk to people, play bingo and other games…I really like the people and staff here. They really brought me out of my shell.”
Kocher is a lot like the others in the program that services adults in need of care from Chelsea, East Boston, Revere and Winthrop. Many of the program’s participants have broken out of isolation to become sociable in an environment that allows them to thrive.
“People come for different reasons,” said Director of the Adult Day Care Unit Joy Biagiotti, R.N. “Some have caregivers that still need to work, others need more medical monitoring than they would get at home and others, like Ron, come for the socializing.”
Biagiotti said the program encourages participation in a whole host of activities throughout the day.
“While it’s encouraged we don’t force the participants to do anything and they can kind of go at their own pace,” said Biagiotti.
Like Frank Puopolo, who suffers from dementia, but enjoys helping the staff with odd jobs.
Puopolo’s niece Rachel Cotugno explains her uncle still thinks he’s young a working so the staff lets him help out which keeps him busy.
“The staff up here are angels,” said Cotugno. “They have given my uncle in his condition a sense of purpose and he really enjoys coming here. They give him little projects to do like organizing the games and its keeps him busy and happy.”
The Don Orione’s Adult Day Care program is one of the oldest in the state and was started back in the 1970s. The program enrolls 37 participants enrolled and there are 20-23 participants on an average day. Families can sign up their loved ones anywhere from 1-5 days per week, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and enrollees are provided with breakfast and lunch made on the premises each day and a variety of interesting activities.
“We are really trying to turn this Adult Day Care Program back into a community program,” said Administrator Rich Govoni.
With that the new tentative owners of the Don Orione Nursing Home, Central Healthcare Initiatives (CHI), plan to make the Adult Day Care a centerpiece of the updated nursing home. CHI is an innovator for healthcare entities with expertise in operational, real estate and financial arenas. They have offices in Danvers as well as New York and Florida.
CHI has already invested money updating several rooms, like the reception area, at the Don Orione and the campus that surrounds the building. The plan is to do more and bring the Don Orione into the 21st Century and create an environment that is bright and welcoming and the staff is very hands-on.
“It’s been decades since anything has been done here,” said Govoni. “While we have our work cut out for us, the plans by CHI will transform the Don Orione into a first-class nursing facility with great healthcare options like the Adult Day Care program.