By: Liv Meier, Staff Writer
NUTLEY, NJ — Home Away From Home is an adult medical day care facility focused on bridging cultural divides through its individualized programming.
The adult day-care facility, nestled behind Flippin’ Out Tumbling & Gymnastics on Hillside Avenue in Nutley, has been serving the community for almost 15 years with more than 200 seniors passing through its doors every day.
“Our clients are able to socialize with dignity here,” Home Away From Home’s administrator, Roman Rubin, told the Nutley Journal in a recent interview.
This point was illustrated by business development consultant Annika Cioffi who recalled an incident when some of the clients were listening to Spanish music and other clients joined in by performing a traditional Korean dance.
The center’s activities director, Ramona Herrera, plans a myriad of events for the center, including bingo, multicultural hour and fashion shows.
During multicultural hour, the seniors interact with each other to discuss their differing heritages.
In 2016, Home Away From Home included a program called “Beyond 21” which is designed to meet the needs of adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities who require medical supervision.
With activities such as shopping trips and art lessons, Beyond 21 director Lisa Roser said the focus is on “teaching daily living skills while relating to the clients in a fun way. Beyond 21 also teaches social skills, provides socialization and recreational activities. I would also add that Beyond 21 participants do not have to have a medical issue to be a part of the program.”
HAFH also celebrates ALL the holidays, from Christmas, to Chinese New Year, to Cinco de Mayo, to Russian Victory Day. At the end of each month, Herrera arranges a large birthday party that celebrates all the clients who had birthdays within that month, complete with decorations, refreshments and candles.
During these parties, clients from the adult day care and Beyond 21 have the opportunity to celebrate together.
“Everyone comes together for our parties and it’s an amazing time,” Herrera said. “The multicultural celebrations and discussions allow our clients to learn from each other.”
Both programs are split into two sessions, one in the morning starting at 8:30 a.m. and the other starting after lunch at 1:30 p.m. Each session includes some form of exercise – whether it be yoga, Zumba, tai chi or dancing and two complete meals designed by a dietitian. Healthy snacks, include fruits, vegetables, crackers and the occasional cookie are also provided.
The dietitian compiles various menus that include American,Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Philipinese and Russian cuisine and options that cater to clients with diabetes, kidney problems and allergies. All of the meals are catered by local ethnic restaurants.
“We focus on providing high quality and healthy food, but it’s certainly not one size fits all,” Randy Mintz, staff dietitian, said.
Home Away From Home also offers on-site health care staff as well as visiting physicians; specialists, such as dentists, podiatrists, speech therapists and physical therapists; and specialized and supportive social workers.
Full-time nurses are on staff, with offices that have a view of the biggest recreation room.
Cioffi said the nurses “are really an extra set of eyes that provide individual care plans.”
The facility provides free round-trip, door-to-door transportation services to their participants who reside within a 25-mile radius of the center, and they will also assist clients with transportation to and from other medical providers.
Other activities include shopping trips, painting, cooking class and bowling. The programming varies from day to day and clients sign up for activities beforehand.
The Rubin family opened the business in March 2005 “to help the elderly within the community,” Rubin believes that what sets his facility apart from other such facilities is the quality of the programming and how HAFH accommodates each individual in every aspect of the programming, from food, to activities, to transportation.
“We are very flexible but still individualized,” he said. “You can make your own way.”
Most clients come five days a week. The seniors are allowed to pick and choose what days they attend and which and whether they want to come in the morning or afternoon.
Family and caregivers can call the facility for a tour, and walk-ins are always welcome.
Home Away From Home fees can be covered by Medicaid HMOs, respite care or private pay.
Home Away From Home is located at 263 Hillside Ave. in Nutley. They can be reached at 973-662-9191 for questions or to schedule a tour.