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About delivering safe, face-to-face adult day care

Who is this guide for?

This guide is aimed at:

  • Commissioners: Most often local authorities but may be Integrated Care Boards (ICB).
  • Providers: Independent, including charitable or not-for-profit providers, and local authorities.
  • Managers: Day care or day centre managers and voluntary co-ordinators.

The guide will also be relevant for people who have a direct payment from their local authority to purchase services, their carers and families, helping to make clear what to expect from services and the local authority.

Scope of the guide

This guide is about face-to-face adult day care provision in England.

It applies to community-based day services (with and without personal care), including specialised day centre environments, and those with provision in outdoor spaces.

This guide does not cover use of public indoor spaces and facilities such as sports centres and cafes. It does not include online/virtual day care provision.

It will be necessary to consider other relevant guidance, particularly in assessing the package of support required to meet an individual’s needs which remain of paramount importance. The needs of carers are important to consider in relation to changes to support. This includes guidance on:

What is day care for adults?

Day care for adults typically involves planned activities for older or working age adults, to support them with important aspects of social, health, nutrition and daily living. These support services are typically run by social care professionals and volunteers and are often in non-residential, group settings. Day care enables adults who have care needs, and/or who are at risk of social isolation, to engage in social and organised activities, as well as providing a regular break to carers.

Day care provision in England is hugely varied, with a range of different care settings, activities and groups using the services.

Day care settings include:

  • purpose-built day centres
  • day centres attached to or part of a care home
  • community buildings (with shared use)
  • sports and leisure activity venues
  • cafes, restaurants and pubs (for example, lunch clubs)
  • outdoor private and public spaces.

Day care services for adults support meaningful activities for the people who take part. These include social, leisure, entertainment, skills-based, educational and employment opportunities. Day care often includes mealtimes and refreshments and may provide services such as hairdressing, assisted bathing, cutting nails and chiropody as well as advice and support with health issues.

Day care services are for adults with many different support needs and may be specialised in the care they provide. Specific groups include:

  • older people
  • people living with dementia
  • adults with learning disability and/or autism, brain injury, mental health problems and long-term health conditions.

The loss of, or reduction in, day care services during the COVID-19 crisis has been hugely challenging for people who use the services and their families and carers. These challenges have included social isolation; disruption of important routines; loss of support with aspects of personal grooming; loss of key interactions with healthcare services; disruption to educational and employment opportunities and a reduction in independence. Families and carers have not had respite and may have been supporting adults experiencing increased stress and anxiety and/or with cognitive or physical decline due to lockdown and disrupted services.