"Family Connection" Keeps Families Connected to Aging Loved Ones

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Adult Care of Chester County
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Organization's Mission Statement

The mission of Adult Care of Chester County (a non-profit agency) is to provide high-quality, cost-effective adult care and a variety of support services that improve the quality of life for frail and/or dependent adults, respite for their caregivers and benefit to the community.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Microsoft Access Helps Families Stay Connected to Aging Loved Ones


Aging adults rely heavily on family members. From transportation and assistance with chores to medical care and social interaction, many needs of aging adults become the responsibility of family members. Families often choose to keep their loved ones out of fulltime nursing care facilities by providing care at home. But these loving family members, the primary caregivers of aging adults, sometimes find the task to be a more intensive time commitment than they had expected. The needs of a chronically ill or dependent aging adult, involving personal care, dietary considerations, leisure time activities and physical health, can be surprisingly overwhelming. When a caregiver decides that the demands of caring for their parent, spouse, or sibling are too much for them to handle alone, a center like Adult Care of Chester County can be of assistance.

Adult Care of Chester County (ACCC) is a day center for adults needing socialization or assistance with day-to-day tasks. Most of our clients are between the ages of 70 and 90, and attend an average of four days each week for social activities and care. Although smiles are frequent throughout the day and the participants enjoy their time, it has long been a challenge for ACCC staff to communicate the details of a participant's day to family caregivers. The end of the day, when participants are picked up from the center, is a bustling time; opportunity to talk with families is limited. Compounding the difficulty is the fact that eighty percent of participants use para-transit for traveling to and from the center, thus minimizing the amount of time family members are present at the center and able to talk with staff. Additionally, around seventy percent of participants have some level of dementia, and cannot be relied upon to communicate information about their day to their families.

Quality surveys have always revealed high satisfaction scores in all categories. But until 2006, families’ satisfaction level regarding communication with ACCC was the lowest category, hovering around seventy-five percent in comparison to the eighty and ninety percent scores for most other categories. An acquisition of Microsoft Access, however, opened brand new options for recording information about participants and sharing that information with families. Microsoft Access was installed on the computers in each program room to allow the ACCC program assistants to record information about the daily actions of participants. This includes a wide range of categories from activity participation and general mood to food intake and bathroom use. The software program’s interface is easy for program assistants to use, and they update the files throughout the day to show real-time data for each participant.

Through a translation software that converts databases into dynamic webpages, these Microsoft Access files are converted to web-format charts, which are accessible to family members through our website. This online service, called Family Connection, has made it possible for family members to monitor the activities and progress of their aging loved one throughout the day. The success of Family Connection has been overwhelming, with satisfaction scores on quality surveys soaring in the communication category in the year following Family Connection’s launch. Many caregivers appreciate the ease of using the service, and the way it can be accessed anytime. Others are impressed with the comprehensive information provided about daily activities. Over seventy percent of new families register for Family Connection and view it regularly. Over half of current participant families are registered.

Adult Care of Chester County is the first and only adult day center in the country to use an online service like this. Through the utilization of Microsoft Access, Family Connection works differently from any other plan of communicating with families. Its accessibility in real-time allows families to see data about their loved one immediately. It also shows data regarding a number of significant categories, rather than just reporting on health needs or issues. Family Connection also includes the current plan of care in the online report. This reminds family members of the strengths that are fostered in the participant’s care, the current goals for the participant and the approaches for reaching those goals.

The increased communication made possible by Family Connection reaches beyond caregivers themselves. The records can be shared with other family members and friends across the country, or with physicians, thus increasing the amount of specialized care that is given to clients from their primary care physicians. The ability to view the activities of their aging loved ones throughout the day gives family members a deeper sense of involvement in ACCC’s program. They are able to provide feedback to ACCC based on the information they see on Family Connection and to initiate conversation with their loved one relating to the information listed each day.

For an agency like Adult Care of Chester County, which is founded on the principle of outstanding quality care, the use of Family Connection through the utilization of Microsoft Access has been invaluable. The mission of ACCC has been enhanced through the use of these software programs by providing more information to families and further involving them in the care of their loved ones. Offering this service to caregivers helps us to care for them as much as we do for their loved ones, the participants. This broad sweep of care encompasses everyone involved in the process of adult aging and helps to fulfill our mission to provide high-quality adult care and support services that improve the quality of life for dependent adults, provide respite for their caregivers and benefit the community.

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Optimize Mission Delivery
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