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Monday, March 30, 2015

County plans to close Annandale Adult Day Care Center

Clients enjoy a game of seated, balloon volleyball.

The Annandale Adult Day Care Center, which serves people with mental and physical impairments, most of them in their 80s, could be shut down as the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors struggles to cut costs.

Each county agency was asked to come up with a list of areas where funding could be reduced, and the Annandale center was targeted for elimination because it’s the oldest and smallest of the county’s adult day care centers and enrollment has been dropping, said Shauna Severo, assistant director of patient care services in the Fairfax County Health Department.

The Annandale Adult Day Care Center on Columbia Pike
The center, located in the old Annandale Elementary School building on Columbia Pike, has the capacity to serve 35 clients, but only sees an average of 24 per day.

Families oppose closure

The Fairfax County Adult Day Health Care Association Inc., an organization of primary caregivers for aging relatives, is mounting a campaign to keep the center open.

The group is urging the county to undertake a professional marketing campaign to get the word out about the benefits – to caregivers as well as clients – and the cost effectiveness of retaining the Annandale Center and pledged to contribute $10,000 to support that effort. The group is concerned that the Lincolnia would be too difficult to get to, especially for the elderly spouses of patients. They also worry the county might eliminate the other adult day care centers, too.

The annual budget for the Annandale Center is $522,000, Severo said. If fees paid by clients are taken into account, the next cost for the current year is $338,471. Fees are on a sliding scale based on income and range from $16 to $107 per day – which is less expensive than private assisted living facilities and in-home care.

The Annandale Center is open 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Clients must come at least twice a week, and many come every day, Robinson says.

The centers are open to anyone age 18 or above with physical or mental impairment who can’t be left at home alone without supervision. While some of the centers have clients in their late 30s with intellectual disabilities, Severo said the average age is about 86. 

 Social engagement

For caregivers – usually the adult parents of clients – “the senior centers offer peace of mind,” Severo said. “They can leave for work in the morning knowing their loved one is in a secure setting.” And instead of sitting in front of a TV alone all day, a day at a center offers plenty of opportunities for social engagement.

On a recent day, clients at the Annandale Adult Day Care Center were having a lot of fun playing balloon volleyball. There was a lot of laughter as they sat in chairs arranged in rows and hit a large inflated green ball over a net.

A certified recreation therapist conducts an assessment for each client and develops a series of activities for them based on their interests and capabilities and input from their families, says Jennifer Robinson, manager of the county’s adult day health care program.

“There are lots of exercise sessions to keep them mobile and independent,” she said, and lots of games, like Trivia, Jeopardy, and card games, to boost their cognitive skills. Art therapy and craft projects, like making wall displays out of tissue paper, help with motor skills and socialization, added Karen McKeon, a therapeutic recreation specialist based at the Annandale center.

There are also educational talks about history, nutrition, or other topics; visits by entertainers; visits from pet therapists, who bring dogs for the clients to interact with; opportunities for reminiscing with one another about the old days; and field trips to places like Cox Farm, museums, and swimming pools at local RECenters.

There’s a nurse on site to monitor their health and administer medications. That’s crucial, because the nurses can spot potential health problems early, thus preventing hospitalizations, Robinson said. Clients are served breakfast, lunch, and a snack.

One of the clients at the Annandale Center is a refugee who had to leave her country on a split second, leaving all her belongings behind and doesn’t speak English, Robinson said. She still enjoys many of center’s activities, like balloon volleyball, that don’t require talking.

Other options

If the Annandale center closes, Severo’s staff would look at where the clients live, make recommendations on which alternative centers would best meet the participant’s and family’s needs, and plan transportation for them through the county’s Fastran bus service.

Most of them would probably go to the Lincolnia Adult Day Care Center, which is the closest and is under capacity now. That center has room for 45 people but only serves about 14 a day. The other county centers are in Herndon, Mount Vernon, and McLean.

The reason for the underutilization of the senior centers, despite the growing number of elderly people in the county, is most likely due to the increase of privately run alternatives, Severo said. Those include Inova’s  PACE program; the Agape Adult Day Care Center, which targets the Korean community and is building a new facility on Lincolnia Road; the expanded Insight Memory facility in Fairfax, and the addition of  “memory units” for Alzheimer’s patients in assisted living facilities.

More expensive private options, however, “are not an option for people with limited resources,” Severo acknowledged.

The county’s adult day care centers get high ratings from users. According to a survey of caregivers, center clients sleep better at home, are less confused, have better moods, and are more alert and interested in daily live, Robinson noted.

Many caregivers tell her, “my mother would never go there,” she said. But after coming to a center for a week, the client often asks, “when do I go back to the club, or back to school?” which is how some of them think about the center.


  1. Not only is the County closing the Annandale Adult Community Center but it is closing the Northern Virginia Training Centers! The NVTC centers provide care for adults who are severely disabled and whose families can't afford or have the resources to care of them. The county's proposed solutions are inhumane and wrong and this BoS needs to be held accountable for atrocious management. In the 1980s President Reagan shut down all the state hospitals and turned out on the streets all the residents. We are still having terrible repercussions from that decision. They are still living on the street. Something is terribly wrong with the management of this Board of Supervisors. There are ways to manage the Fairfax County budget but it might mean making hard decisions and making people mad and unhappy. People are always going to be unhappy. For a change, the BoS should do the right thing and make a good decision. I'm tired of them protecting their little fiefdoms.

    1. Everyone has their fiefdom. The artsy crowd got their boondoggle at Lorton and now the county is paying off their $30 MM debt. There are undoubtedly plenty of more like them living in Fairfax who would happily surcharge everyone's property taxes to fund their favorite causes. The problem is that most residents have already anted up 20% or more in property taxes over the last couple of years and likely will continue paying through the nose just to keep basic services going. So, if you want to be philanthropic, I recommend you start your own foundation because the days of funding expensive social services for a relatively small number of recipients are over.

  2. FCPS won't be satisfied until 90% of the county budget is spent on schools.

    1. Just maybe if our BOS - Penny & Sharon had the laws of FXCO enforced we would not need more money in the schools. Currently our schools are overcrowded and teachers can not teach because they are dealing with classroom issues.

  3. Consider the possibility of a silver lining here. The county needs a home for their "Eastern Governmental Center" and Annandale needs a shot in the arm. Since this is county land, perhaps it could be combined with the adjacent fire station property, bank and Honey Pig et al, daycare and the abandoned court behind the building and locate the county building there--with a fire station,some space for community / adult daycare use.

    1. That makes too much sense...the County would never go for it!

    2. How in the hell does a government center built for handing out services to the destitute help our local economy? What brand of fool are you to think that taking down legitimate businesses like Honey Pig and replacing them with government handout centers is a good idea?

      Honey Pig is a thriving local business, and you are probably a close-minded picky American who won't try Korean food. People from all over the area eat at Honey Pig in Annandale. Heck, when we have visitors from out of town, we will sometimes take them to Honey Pig.

    3. Honey Pig, I would think twice before eating there. They are listed as Seoul Gool Dae Gee under health inspection records, probably to make them harder to find.

    4. @740a, try Kogiya around the corner, it's awesome

    5. Anon 7:40 here. I love Kogiya, and have taken out of town visitors there as well.

  4. Very well done article, Ellie!

  5. I can see the point of closing this facility & moving participants to Lincolnia. It's not that far away, they have greater capacity & conceivably could offer more. Change is tough for much older people, but presumably they'd still be with the same older folks and doing similar activities. This sounds like a smart way to save money. For those w transportation problems, perhaps volunteers could help.

    1. How do you know they could offer more, and what does this mean?

  6. Its so sad that our American politicians are not embracing our elderly. Most every other culture celebrates their aging relatives and does what is needed to care for them. Not in America, we cut funding, isolate them, put them in homes, and typically go about our business while forgetting about this amazing group of people (who taught us most of what we know). Shame on you Fairfax County Government. Pick on the demographic that has limited funds and the hardest time fighting so you can push your pet projects through. Just wait till you need a center like Annandale and see who is their to stand up for you.
    James Brennan
    Crested Butte, CO

  7. Why is FFX and Mason District even considering building governmental monolithic human services buildings at all? We are constantly being told that there are vacant office buildings throughout the county. Wouldn't it be cheaper to buy one of those for a human services building? Then we would not have to do away with the services!!!! There are huge empty buildings at Skyline and on Columbia Pike. Grab one of those.

    Land was purchased for the glitzy ECO friendly Merrifield Center and millions were spent building that. Why??? Just more concrete being poured when we are constantly told about empty buildings all over the county. That is poor land use planning by FFX.

    Top that off with all the infrastructure expenses involved in upkeep. If the past is prologue, these will decline to a state of disrepair. Anyone visit the Willston Multicultural Center lately? It is a disgrace and has been allowed to disintegrate even though if offers viable human services.

    Don’t cut social service programs then turn around and use the money to build human service buildings.I propose using the vacant offices buildings for human service offices. Stop putting students in office buildings and give school grounds and associated buildings back to the FCPS as needed.

    Does anyone else see the disconnect here? What the heck is going on????