Old Friends Club Affiliate Program
The friends and family of those with dementia are, by far, the leading providers of dementia care. Their need for respite is urgent.
Dementia caregivers urgently need respite, and they need it in their community. Old Friends Club makes that possible by empowering organizations to take action on behalf of families in their community who are affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementias. It is possible to provide solutions now to help families manage the challenges of these diseases. Our vision is a society where people with dementia -- and those who care for them -- are included, respected, supported, and have the resources they need to live well.
Respite for Every Caregiver
OFC believes empowering other organizations to start and lead social respite programs for the people in their community is the best way to 1) quickly expand to meet the massive need for respite throughout our state and beyond, and 2) serve diverse communities while honoring each culture. This model makes social respite programs available to every community and is flexible to serve people of any language, identity, culture, race, ethnicity, faith, or economic means.
Affiliates will collect and keep program fees which will allow them to pay the staff, provide lunches, and conduct intakes. Old Friends Club will provide a toolkit, support, marketing, and referrals to Affiliates. The toolkit includes the business model, templates for forms, policies, sample activities and calendars, job descriptions, etc.
In addition, OFC will facilitate regular group trainings for the staff of Affiliate Clubs to build skills and knowledge, and create networking opportunities to build peer support, and encourage cross-training and back-up for staff time off. As the network grows, training opportunities could be extended to family caregivers and community members.
OFC will partner with each Club to assure quality and offer support where needed, with reporting and site visits to ensure the Clubs are aligned with best practices.
The Old Friends Club Solution for Families
The Clubs are places of friendship and belonging for those living with dementia, where they enjoy conversation, music and games, create art, stay active, have lunch and share life together. It is a place of laughter, connection, and trust. They are also reliable respite that caregivers can feel good about. Many have called it “life-changing” because they can relax knowing their loved one is safe and among friends.
The benefits of Old Friends Club are many:
Affordable – less than half the cost of in-home care
True Respite – caregivers have 5 hours at least 2 days a week to use as they wish, including time in the quiet of their own home.
Person-centered – an intentionally small group of up to 10-12 Members builds friendship and trust, allows for individual attention, and ensures each person is seen, heard, and valued.
Community based – means close to home, accessible, and led by people from the same community
Old Friends Club’s is a cost-saving solution. OFC’s respite programs reduce long-term care costs, reduce health care costs for both those with dementia and their caregivers, increase resilience, and reduce the burden on the broader health care system.
What We’ve Learned About Sustainability
Studies show the effectiveness and benefits of adult day programs such as Old Friends Club, including promoting the resilience that friends and families need to continue offering care at home, yet in Washington State these programs have suffered financially and many have closed. We’ve identified reasons behind these struggles, most notably those tied to a focus on government-funded clients of “Adult Day Care”* (Medicaid, VA, and State Respite programs) which have fixed rates and require billing at the end of the month only for days attended, while the program must be fully staffed each day. For this reason, many of the remaining Adult Day Programs shift everyone they can to the Adult Day Health level, which brings higher payments but is far more costly to provide and requires interruptions in the participant’s day to meet ADH requirements.
There is a common incorrect assumption that people will not pay privately for these services. We have proof that they will, and with great relief. Old Friends Club is a social model focused on the greatest needs of those we serve: engagement and belonging for those with dementia, and respite for caregivers. The model is sustainable because the monthly fees are affordable for families, and cover program expenses with just 6 paying members, including competitive salaries for staff. This leaves room for a sliding scale for families with tighter budgets.
* “Adult Day Care” is the terminology used for government funded programs and has become an accepted phrase. Old Friends Club avoids the term “day care” because it suggests a childlike interaction. People with dementia are adults and deserve to be respected as such.