How to Choose an Adult Daycare Provider

A Checklist of Questions to Ask

Nurse talking to older man in home
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Each state defines adult daycare slightly differently, but all agree that it is care that uses social and health activities for elderly patients with functional impairments for less than 24 hours per day. There are two basic types of adult daycare. First is care that offers basic health services including meals and activities. Second is adult daycare the provides more advanced healthcare to people who would otherwise need a skilled nursing facility. Each has different requirements. If you’re not able to take care of a loved one on your own but don’t want them in a full-time care facility, how do you choose an adult daycare provider?

State Regulations

Most states require licensure, certification, or both. To find the requirements in your state, look to the Department of Health and Human Services. Some states have requirements concerning the administration of medication, certain training for staff, and a mandate for certain services. In Florida, transportation is required for certain adult daycare facilities, for example.

There’s also a worker-to-participant ratio that differs by state. The average is one worker for every six participants, but that also will differ by state. Before researching providers in your area, become familiar with your state’s requirements.

Basic Safety

Left unattended, your loved one is a safety hazard to themselves and possibly to others. An adult daycare provider should prove that safety is a top priority and show evidence that the facility is built and maintained with safety in mind. Look for:

  • General cleanliness. The building should be well-maintained, clean, and free of offensive odors. This includes the kitchen area, as well. Do the participants look clean?
  • Steps and other unmovable trip hazards marked with caution strips
  • Floors free of trip hazards and made of or covered with a non-slip surface

Also, ask to see emergency procedures and ask providers if they were trained on those emergency procedures.

Meals and Nutrition

You’ve likely heard horror stories of the elderly eating or being fed less-than-appropriate meals either to cut costs or because they have some form of dementia. You shouldn’t be worried about deplorable feeding practices in most cases, but the provider should give you a copy of the week’s menu.

Ask them how they accommodate special diets like diabetic-friendly meals, low-sodium diets, vegetarian or kosher meals, and food for residents who are picky eaters. Overall, are you seeing meals that are nutritious and look appetizing?


Because Medicare doesn’t provide funding for adult daycare, price becomes a concern. Medicaid state plans may cover the costs, and there may be grants and scholarships available to cover the cost through individual state funds. You can find the agency responsible for funding assistance in your area.

First, ask about the cost. The average daily rate is $70 per day, but states like Alaska charge an average of $168 per day and Vermont averages $132. Cheaper states include Alabama at an average of $26 per day and Texas at $35. Next, ask the adult daycare about any funding assistance available.

Other Questions to Ask

  • Is transportation available and is there an additional charge?
  • Can participants request activities or is there a set schedule? Are the selected activities enjoyable for your loved one?
  • Does the facility’s hours of operation fit your schedule?
  • Are there hidden charges for meals, arts and crafts, or outings? If so, how much?
  • Is there a minimum weekly commitment? If so, how many days or hours?
  • What are policies around late arrival or early pickup?
  • Are there support groups or other programs for caregivers, especially if the patient is an Alzheimer’s patient or somebody with a challenging condition?
  • Are there other benefits on site, such as blood pressure screening, immunizations, hair styling, or dental? (Even at a cost, these are time savers for caregivers.)

Next Steps

Once all of your questions are answered, and you’ve presented all the information to concerned family members, give the provider a try. To start, pay for two to five days of care at one or more of the centers that you consider to be the main contenders. Assuming all items above are acceptable, you can then ask your elderly loved one (if they have the capacity to make such a decision) which facility they liked the most. The happier they are, the easier your life as a caregiver will likely be.