Best Practices

Adult Day Activities Serving People with Developmental Disabilities


This document describes Harbor Regional Center’s expectations for day activities. It reflects what family members of clients involved in day activities, day activity service providers, and regional center staff have told us a good day activity experience should be like. We look forward to working in partnership with our day activity providers in the coming years to help them move their services steadily closer to these expectations.


  1. The organization’s mission statement specifically promotes respect for people with disabilities and participation of people with disabilities in the community.
  2. Staff know and can explain the meaning of the mission statement.

Client Choice and Individualization

  1. The organization may have entry and exit criteria based on reasonable parameters, but otherwise entry and exit are determined by client choice.
  2. Clients have opportunities to give input about the kinds of activities offered.
  3. Clients are helped to access generic resources in the community, including, for example, community colleges and adult education programs.
  4. Clients are encouraged and helped to use public transportation whenever possible.
  5. Clients have a choice whether they engage in work or other activities.
  6. Clients engage in activities that are purposeful or meaningful (e.g., they achieve something, they learn a skill, or they enjoy the activity).
  7. Each client selects from a range of options the activities in which he or she is involved.
  8. Client groupings are determined by clients’ choice of activities; as a result, groupings may change as clients’ selections change.
  9. Clients exercise their choice of scheduled days and hours from within a reasonable range of schedule options including late afternoon, evening, and weekend hours.

Communication with Families or Residential Service Providers

  1. The organization asks for input about the day activity services from families, residential service providers, and regional center staff.
  2. There is a prescribed method of written communication between day activity staff and the client’s home.
  3. Communication between the day activity and the client’s home is two-way.
  4. Communications from the day activity to the client’s home focus on actions taken or required.
  5. Day activity employees participate in, at a minimum, an annual regional center planning meeting for each client.

Staff/Client Interaction and Communication

  1. Staff communicate effectively with each client using the client’s preferred method of communication.
  2. Staff speak to clients in a respectful manner.
  3. Staff know personal facts about each client, including his or her likes and dislikes.
  4. Staff are aware of each client’s medication needs.
  5. When in the community with clients, staff carry basic medical information (medications,  allergies, etc.) about each client in case there is a need for emergency medical care.
  6. People who need help with personal hygiene have a choice of who helps them.

Staff Support

  1. Staff receive initial training that includes, at a minimum, learning about the clients, as well as basic methods of interaction and communication.
  2. Staff receive ongoing training that includes methods for engaging clients in activities that are purposeful or enriching for the clients.
  3. Staff are encouraged to attend outside training conducted by the regional center or other organizations.
  4. Direct care staff are observed at least twice a month in the community by direct supervisors.
  5. Each manager observes staff in the community at least once per month.
  6. Staff are given a budget of at least $10.00 per client per week to support activities in the community.
  7. Direct care staff are paid at least 150% of minimum wage.
  8. Direct care staff are paid for a minimum of six hours per month to participate in non-direct care activities such as supervisory meetings and training.
  9. Direct care staff are paid for a minimum of one hour per day to participate in nondirect care activities such as preparation and debriefing activities.

Program Resources

  1. The organization may maintain different staff-to-client ratios for activities in the community and on site, but the overall ratio must be no less than 1 to 3 at all times.
  2. There is an effective and reliable mechanism (e.g., toll-free phone number,
    cellular phone, etc.) for staff to communicate with the site when they are in the community with clients. 
  3. The organization possesses comprehensive and easy-to-use written materials setting forth plans for meaningful activities on site and in the community.
  4. The organization maintains sufficient supplies, games, and equipment for a variety of client activities (e.g. craft materials, tv and vcr, videos, bicycles, exercise equipment, etc.).
  5. The organization has at least one computer per 15 enrolled clients as well as appropriate software for client use.


  1. The program maintains its own vans, in good repair, for use in transporting clients.
  2. The program possesses at least one van with a maximum capacity of 7 persons for each 15 enrolled clients.
  3. Staff do not transport clients in their personal vehicles.
  4. When clients are being transported, at least one staff person in addition to the driver is present in the van to provide supervision.

Physical Environment

  1. The building housing the site is in a safe neighborhood.
  2. The site is clean, in good repair, and maintained at a comfortable temperature.
  3. The site has comfortable and functional furnishings that are appropriate for a variety of client activities.
  4. The site has features that make it an inviting and enriching place to be (for example, pictures on the walls, plants, and other decorations).
  5. The site has bathroom facilities that provide privacy for clients.
  6. The site has full kitchen facilities, including running water, sink, dishwasher, refrigerator, stove, storage cabinets, as well as tables and chairs for dining.
  7. The space available for client activities is not less than 100 square feet per client.
  8. The site is used by no more than 15 clients at any one time.
  9. For programs designated as primarily “community-based,” clients are in the
    community at least 2/3 of the time; for programs designated as primarily “sitebased,”
    clients are in the community at least 1/3 of the time.