In the mid-'70s, the Dane County community recognized the need for an alternative to premature placement in nursing homes. Isolation and safety of elders living alone were causes for concern. For many, their family caregivers were experiencing difficulties and anxiety associated with caring for them.
In a study conducted by the Dane County Community Health Services Board, adult daycare was identified as a service that would enable older adults to remain independent in the community. In response to these findings, Madison Urban Ministry led the way in bringing adult daycare to the community. The Older Adult Day Center opened at Bethel Church in early 1976. It was funded by the Attic Angel Association, other community organizations and foundations, and supported by many dedicated individuals.
In 1979, United Way of Dane County joined the partnership in providing funds. Operating with a small budget, the Older Adult Day Center relied on volunteers to play key roles. From 1976 through 1979, they collectively clocked 5,000 hours on average per year.
In 1980, the name was changed to Madison Area Adult Day Center to reflect broad service to the growing community. During the early '80s, the demand for services began to outpace capacity. Three additional adult day centers were opened to accommodate community need. Specialized services were also created, particularly those focusing on Alzheimer's and other memory loss conditions. Caregiver education and support services were initiated, with a major focus on Alzheimer's. The nationally acclaimed Robert Wood Johnson Foundation invested in these services through a sizeable grant.
Reflecting the continued expansion of programs and areas served, another name change occurred in 1992, to Elder Care of Dane County. Through increased county funding, Elder Care began to provide personal care services such as assistance with bathing, dressing, and preparing meals--all to support older adults in living at home. Also, Elder Care turned its attention to older adults with developmental disabilities. With county funds, the Supported Living program began providing 24-hour support to older adults with developmental disabilities. Most of the program enrollees moved from institutions to their own homes for the first time.
During the early 1990s, Elder Care leadership perceived a need for more coordination of health care and support services across fragmented delivery systems. Elder Care took bold steps to seek out demonstration projects that would address this need, benefit our community, and affect national public policy.
As a first step, Elder Care was selected as a demonstration site for the national PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly). This model integrated health care and support services for Medicaid-eligible older adults with chronic medical conditions. Participants received their health and support care through our medical clinic and adult day health center.
During the same period, Elder Care joined forces with the Wisconsin Department of Health & Family Services, the UW School of Nursing, and three other community-based organizations to develop the Wisconsin Partnership Program, a demonstration project similar to PACE, but with two key differences. Partnership participants generally keep their own primary care physicians, and they receive most of their services at home. Start-up funding for WPP came from the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Finding that most people preferred the Partnership approach, Elder Care integrated PACE into Partnership to create a single coordinated care program in 2001.
In 2003, Elder Care changed its name to Elder Care of Wisconsin, to best reflect its broad mission of service and its future plans to partner with other communities in Southern Wisconsin.
For more than 30 years, our organization has remained true to its founding mission, as we have envolved from that first adult day center located in a Madison church to a spectrum of programs and services soon to span southern Wisconsin. In June 2007, our Board of Directors made the decision to change our name to Care Wisconsin to better reflect our growth in programs and the groups of people we serve.