The Ruby Pardue Blackburn (RPB) Adult Day Care at West Park, North Wilkesboro, has remained open during the COVID-19 pandemic, except for a period of less than eight weeks as a result of a statewide order.

The RPB Adult Day Care has been open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday since it reopened in June, providing a secure environment for adults of all ages unable to stay home alone while relatives are at work or need respite. Many similar programs have been closed through most of the pandemic.

RPB Adult Day Care Director Jennifer Snider said some participants have had to quarantine at home due to COVID-19 exposure outside the center, but no virus cases among staff or participants were traced directly to it.

Even during the shutdown, employment at the adult day care wasn’t reduced because of federal Payroll Protection Program funding. Staff made home visits, checking on well-being of program participants and leaving food. Fulltime RPB Adult Day Care nurse Anna Seeley called daily or weekly to see if participants were getting their medication and other needs met.

About 50 people are enrolled as participants in the adult day care, but daily attendance has averaged around 30 during the pandemic. Participants range in age from 18 to their 90s, with most being senior adults.

Snider said daily screening for COVID-19 at the RPB Adult Day Care begins with participants answering a questionnaire, having their temperatures checked and washing their hands as they arrive.

Each is offered a mask if not already being worn upon arrival, but masks can’t be required due to the medical or behavioral issues some participants have. Each item participants bring, such as walkers, bags and medication containers, is cleaned and disinfected before entry.

“The overall group setting alleviates isolation and depression, but individuals spend time in varied small groups of two to four people (for activities), with each person having his or her own craft supplies or other materials,” said Snider.

A variety of therapeutic activities are offered, including gardening in a large outside fenced area.

Snider said the entire adult day care complex is cleaned twice every day. This includes bathrooms; areas where meals and snacks are served; leisure areas; and areas for personal care such as bathing, exercise activities, leisure and rest. Catered breakfast and lunch meals are served.

Staff involved in personal care wear masks, gloves and outerwear. Snider worked with public and private entities to secure pandemic-related funds for purchasing these supplies and covering other expenses.

This included Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds awarded to Wilkes County government. Part of county government’s CARES Act allocation must go to non-profits for personal protection equipment.

Snider wrote the application for Payroll Protection Plan funds and submitted it through Surrey Bank & Trust. Assistance with this was provided by Matt Daye, the bank’s executive in Wilkes and RPB board member.

She said most RPB Adult Day Care staff were eligible for vaccination in early stages of the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine and have received first doses.

Snider said the adult day care is successful because of broad community support and excellent staff. She said this made the program’s beautiful, well-maintained and well-equipped facility at West Park possible.

Donations fund a scholarship program that makes RPG Adult Day Care services available to anyone who needs them, regardless of ability to pay.

Snider expressed gratitude for this support and for family members who entrust their loved ones to the center’s professional and caring staff.

Adult day care is a cost-effective option for allowing family members needing special care to remain at home instead of more-costly long-term residential care, she added.

The center’s program director and other staff work with participants and their families to identify activities based on interests, needs, and abilities of each participant, emphasizing his/her strengths and abilities rather than impairments. Participants are encouraged to take part in activities, but may choose not to do so or may choose another activity.

Program assistants come from a variety of health care backgrounds, but all have been trained in caring for the elderly and disabled. They are also available to assist participants with activities of daily living, such as eating, ambulating, toileting, bathing, personal hygiene and grooming.

Shelmer Blackburn Jr., a co-founder of the RPB Adult Day Care and member of its board, stated, “This center would have been a blessing had it been here when my mother, Ruby Pardue Blackburn, and my family needed it so much.” The family is from Purlear.

The adult day care center was established over 10 years ago.

More information is available by contacting Snider at 336-667-2541. She said the center has a job opening, that of community outreach coordinator. People interested in applying can contact Snider, also at 336-667-2541.

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