Haitian elders find unique care at Geneva center

The Geneva Avenue Elderly Housing organization held an open house late last month for a new Haitian Adult Day Health Center, the first of its kind for Kit Clark Senior Services, which provides numerous health care options for seniors across Massachusetts.

Generally, Adult Day Health Centers provide nursing care along with social entertainment for seniors in need. Since 1975, Kit Clark Senior Services has provided such programs for seniors along with transportation to and from centers. Beginning in July 2008, the program opened a special center to target Haitian patrons for the first time.

On a typical weekday, one might expect to find the clients of the Haitian Adult Day Health Care program engaging in music, community learning, or — if it is a Friday— movie day. This holistic approach to health care has resulted in notable success stories for site manager Marie Jean-Charles, who recalls those “individuals who could not move, but could now do things you never could imagine. Now they can help you!”

Jean-Charles, a social worker who runs the Haitian Adult Day Health program, began doing research and outreach for this new program two years ago. Contacting churches, hospitals, and other adult programs, Jean-Charles found a demand for an adult care program geared towards the distinctive needs of Haitian elders. Another program, organized by Oswald Neptune, Sant Belvi Senior Center, also serves elders in the Boston area.

From outreach efforts at these sites, she was able to add 30 participants to the comprehensive health care program. To qualify, applicants must demonstrate a need for basic care like walking, eating, or grooming.

The program effectively depends on MassHealth and the state-run Elderly Services Program, which places the services at the mercy of budget crises.

For more information on the Haitian Adult Day Health Center and its services, call 617-619-6941.