A Conversation with Cassandra DeVeaux, Founder of Mother DeVeaux Adult Day Care
In the following interview, we speak with Cassandra DeVeaux about her work at the adult day care. Cassandra works with a variety of adults including those with disabilities and seniors seeking community. Here, she shares a bit about how the day care got started and the health challenges she sees daily.
Appleseed: Thanks for speaking with us about all the wonderful things you do. Can you tell us about Mother DeVeaux?
Cassandra: Our center is named Mother DeVeaux Adult Daycare because my grandmother, when she was younger, she had an educational center and she kind of worked with the children of Eastover. She was one of the pioneers that actually got the Monarch schools up and running based on what she shared. Her kids were a whole lot smarter than the kids that were going to school. So, they came down to find out what she was doing and switched the curriculum to match something she was doing in order to get the kids at school up and running on the same pace.
So, as she got older, she kind of let that part of it go because the kids started going to school. But she said oftentimes, "I wish that I could take care of seniors. If I could take care of five seniors, then I would be happy." But she passed on before she could do that. So what we did was picked up her dream and opened up a daycare and named it after her.
What is your focus here at the Adult Day Care?
Cassandra: So our goal here is really giving a better quality of life at the end. So, yes, we do focus a lot on cognitive. They don't come and sit here, it's not like just social. They actually come in and they have the morning breakfast coffee break. And we have that and then we do like a morning devotion 'cause just about everyone in here is a Christian. Or they want some type of devotion to talk through today. So we do a morning devotion and once we finish that, then we get into our cognitive training.
Our cognitive training could be just doing puzzles together. We do Sudoku, they're pretty good at Sudoku too. So, we do Sudoku. We do puzzle games like the one on the board, the star puzzle. We do missing letters, color, and math.
The whole goal is to keep them remembering because we feel that if you remember and you're more physically able to do for yourself, then nobody is trying to throw you in a nursing home. And that's our whole goal, to keep them out of nursing homes. To be able to be home and handle in their own home without somebody trying to put them away. So we work with them in that nature. We also do physical exercise on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays. A lot of stretches, and like I said, we did the Congo because everybody said they didn't walk this weekend, so I was like, "Well let's go! Let's do the Congo line right quick." to get them up and moving. And then at the end of the day, we do a lot of arts and crafts. So they do have their moments of a little TV, The Price is Right. You know, they do "bet", but physically say who's going to win. They really seem to enjoy themselves. They look for each other.
"It's not knowing. A lot of them, like some of them in there, they've worked really nice jobs all their life and now it's like, they need the service now. But they can't get it because they have too many assets or their retirement check is too big or Social Security is too big. They're like, right above the quarter you know, so they can't have Medicaid. So that is the block right there." - Cassandra on Medicaid access among her clients
How do your clients get to the day care?
Cassandra: Many are brought here by bus. You know, we recently split the buses. They used to all be on one bus, but we went and bought two because the bus ride was getting a little too long. It was two hours almost on a bus. So we split the routes so that everybody can get here within an hour that they get on the bus.
So they're from all over?
Cassandra: Right. We have some from Hopkins, some from Gaston, some from Eastover. So we work with them in that nature. Actually, Ms. Dolores is from Gaston but she rides down with her granddaughter to Hopkins and we pick her up from there because her granddaughter works at a school in Hopkins, so we pick her up from there. So that works out for us with them. And then in the afternoon, we do a lot of occupational therapy. I guess that's what we call it, where they're putting together different projects, arts and crafts, building things, you know, anything of that nature. Painting, drawing, you know, so things to keep them occupied. They seem to really like it. They seem to really like the program. And we enjoy it. We look forward to coming in and doing this with them.
There are some things we have done with them to get them in a better state. We have one client that we actually potty-trained. He couldn't go and we taught him so now, he knows how to go. So, we're excited about that. And we help them, you know, with their walking. We have one lady, her occupational therapist comes here and her physical therapist comes here to give her what she needs. She's missing her speech therapist, but they're trying to work to get her to have a speech therapist come down here. So that's a little challenging right now, but you know, we're hoping. A lot of them don't know that they can have in-home help. So we're teaching and we're learning ourselves and we're providing that information that you can actually have somebody come in your home and help you. One particular client, she had a stroke. So it's very hard for her to do things for herself and just three weeks ago, her caregiver passed away. So now, it's her and her husband and he's like kind of clueless on what to do because he has not been the one that's been her primary caregiver. So now, she has to adjust to getting a new primary caregiver to kind of help her with showers and things of that nature. So, she hasn't gotten it yet, but they're working on it.
Those are the things that people don't know is available to them. Even with us being here, a lot of them don't come because they feel that it's some type of cost to them. So they'll come down and they'll look and they'll tour and everything. And they like everything but then when you call them back to see what's going on, are you ready to commit, they think about the money and they be like "No." So that's the thing and we don't know if they just don't know that Medicare, Medicaid offers to pay for their long-term care or not, but they just get kind of skittish on that, and they don't come back. So we're working to try to improve that, we're hoping, we've been trying to work with a social worker in Eastover. So she could come down and kind of like, teach people. But it's hard for people to adjust of coming out of their house. We've gone around and knock on doors and offered just to come in and see what we're about, just for a day. You know, we'll bring you in and we'll take you home for free, just to see what it's about. But it's hard to get people out of their houses here. So, but it's here. The service is here for them. Sometimes it's family, we're running into some blocks with the scholarship. It's family sometimes that feels that they're controlling their money and they don't feel that they should come. Or they'll say that they can't afford to come. And it can be a whole totally different thing. So you know, you have that block to deal with. So, those are some of the things that we face as we try.
We do, we are working on this new scholarship that we're working on because we have to expand. So, our way of expansion is to take one of us. I have a Master's in adult education, and I do a lot with cognitive. So what we're gonna to do is, we're going to expand our services by offering four to eight clients an hour a day of going into their home and just teaching them cognitive help. That's it, just you know, working with their brains so that they'll be able to just get some type of betterment of life. You know, learning a little something, remembering a little something, play some matching games, or something to help with memory, slow down dementia. You can't get rid of it, but you can slow it down. So that's what we hope to do.
So, going to them?
Cassandra: Going to them, since they won't come to us, then we want to come to them because it's a nonprofit service, so we're here. It's not about the money for us, it's really about the benefit and the help that they get at the end of life. I would rather live my life healthy as in, you know, able to get out and able to remember things and things of that nature versus just sitting home behind four walls. My loved ones may be thinking that they're doing good for me, but not really, you know, because I don't get to get out. All I see is these four walls. So because they won't come to us, then we're gonna to come to them and see what we can do to help in that nature.
You know so much about them. You know, there are families that don't know as much as you do about the people that you're serving, which is incredible. Can you just tell us a little about the Medicaid challenges that you see and what the barrier is for a lot of folks?
Cassandra: It's not knowing. A lot of them, like some of them in there, they've worked really nice jobs all their life and now it's like, they need the service now. But they can't get it because they have too many assets or their retirement check is too big or Social Security is too big. They're like, right above the quarter you know, so they can't have Medicaid. So that is the block right there. Cause even like, with one of the clients that's on scholarship, I've been trying for the last three weeks to get her either get, insurance to agree to pay part of her bill. Medicaid won't accept her because I think she owns her own house. So that's assets, so they're not going to pick her up. So I've been trying to find other ways to get her to stay. She needs to be here these five days, she does not need to be at home at all, except for maybe on the weekend. And she's counting, she'll tell you like, "I put my clothes out every night because I am waiting on you" at the same time, same place and she's making sure at the end of the day. And then when Friday comes, she says "Ok, so we don't come two days." And then she's like, "But okay, y'all are going to be there to pick me up on Monday". So it's like, she wants to be here, she's home alone, her neighbors come in and check in on her. I don't really think she has much family because her neighbors are the ones who are coming in and checking in and cooking her food and everything. But if it wasn't for them, you know, we wouldn't know. Because she's been without heat one time for three weeks, nobody knew about it, you know, when it was really cold. But her neighbor walked in and she was able to tell us what was going on with her because she had to stay out a couple days to get her heat fixed. And because she has dementia, you know, she has her car key. So if she's not here, she's driving and they're like "where are you?", you know? So now they've switched out her car key to make her feel like she has a car key even though it don't fit her car.
So stuff like that. The block is getting the ones that are overqualified some additional help. That's where the block is when it comes to Medicaid. And the other block is the fact that people just don't know. They don't know that they can get long-term services, they think that it's going to come directly out of their pocket, or they think that they might lose some type of benefit if they allow their person to come from Medicaid or Medicare, whichever one they're on. They think that they're going to lose something, some type of benefit or maybe their check is going to get cut shorter because their person is coming here.
From your experience, then, what do you think would help you help them at this point? Have you considered what would?
Cassandra: I was thinking like, just training. You know, we do training on several different levels. But to have a social worker maybe work with us and to offer Eastover a class on Medicaid. And if they come out, because we've tried this before. If they come out, you know, to kind of maybe promote it, make it bigger, market it so they can understand. Come out and learn what Medicaid can do for you. And just teach them and then allow applications to be filled out on the spot. Maybe have a group of social workers in here and they fill out applications on the spot. Get them run through as quickly as possible and make sure to get all the information needed to go back to that person and say "Hey, you were approved for such and such, we can get you this, this, this and that through Medicaid, you know, it doesn't cost you anything." Or even those that are determined "I'm gonna to stay home", well let's make sure home is right. You know, Medicaid can offer you an in-house person to help you clean up, help you bathe, whatever it is. Or those caregivers who are stressed out because they're trying to balance their work life and take care of the person. Let them know, "hey Medicaid can come in and actually give you a break by allowing them to sit with your person for a couple hours if you're not going to bring them to a center."