What is a day centre

What is a day centre?

7 min read |
Alistair Clay Author

Author 10.02.2023

Alistair Clay

What is a day centre? Adult day centres are places for older adults to spend time during the day.

They are designated centres that offer a range of activities to have fun, learn new skills and socialise.

Day centres also offer care and supervision within a group setting where professionals are on hand to provide support.

This article will cover what is a day centre for older adults and how you can get access.

Here’s a summary of what we’ll cover:

  • Day centres are a type of adult social care for older people who live independently but benefit from support during the day.
  • They include socialising and participating in activities run by the centre, plus a hot meal and refreshments. 
  • Day centres cater to different health and social care needs.
  • You often have to pay for day centres, but funding may be available through your care plan. 


Dementia day centres

What is a day centre?

An adult day centre is a place for elderly people to go during the day so they aren’t alone at home.

It offers opportunities for older people to socialise, connect, participate in activities and enjoy a hot meal. 

Plus, they encourage people to get out of the house and into the community, building a peer care network around them.

Day centres are also undoubtedly beneficial to older people wondering how to cope with loneliness.

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Who can join a day centre?

Day centres are for older adults who are looking for a bit of company, support and care assistance during the day. 

Users have a social care or health need but want to remain living independently with the assistance of care workers.  

Some day centres can’t cater for those with complex care needs or for people who require live-in care.

However, there are different types of day centres that cater to certain conditions or needs.

How to join a day centre

What care is available at a day centre?

The level of care available at a day centre varies depending on who it caters for. 

Some centres are suitable for people with more complex conditions and care needs. 

Others are only available to people who have fewer care needs. 

When you join a day centre, the providers will create a care plan so you can get the most out of your time there.

When to consider an adult day centre care

Whether organising care for yourself or a loved one, a day centre is a great place to start. 

Depending on the level of need, different day centres offer varying levels of support in a group setting. 

This can be further supplemented with home help or more extensive home care visits

Consider the following care needs to see if a day centre is right for your circumstances.

types of day centre

Companionship and support

If you or your loved one has a health or social care need but wishes to remain living at home, an adult day centre is a great option.

Attending a day centre means that they get support from peers and companion care from qualified care workers. 

This addresses the concern of elderly isolation from the community due to mental or physical decline.

Yet you can enjoy the comfort and independence that living at home affords at the end of the day.

When to consider an adult day centre care

Considerations for carers

If you look after an elderly family member, there may be times you can’t be there to support them.  

Attending a day centre frees up time for carers, plus gets the right support for the person needing care. 

In many Age UK day centres you have the option to attend a full day, or for three hours.

Dementia day centres

If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with early stage dementia, day centres can offer support. 

They provide diverting activities for attendees such as singing, arts and reminiscence therapy sessions. 

Centres provide a vital community link for people living with dementia at any stage and prevent social isolation.

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What activities can you expect to find at a day centre?

There are plenty of activities on offer at a day centre including exercise, skills workshops and getting creative. 

Attendees also receive a hot meal, drinks and snacks throughout the day, which is a nice activity in itself.

Creative and fun activities

There are lots of ways to get creative, express yourself and benefit from sensory stimulation that day centres provide. 

Day centres often have access to arts and crafts materials and facilitate workshops such as painting or sewing. 

You can also expect to find cards and board games (plus others appropriate to care needs) where you’ll meet people and have fun competing.

Some day centres also organise activities such as day trips to local places of interest.

Who can join a day centre?

Learn something new

The brain loves to learn new things, even if it gets trickier the older you age. 

Many centres offer skills classes where you can learn and practice skills, plus learn from your peers.  

Continuing to learn is a way to keep your brain active as you age, and reduce your risk of dementia. 

There may also be opportunities for attendees to share their knowledge with the group which is empowering and builds confidence.

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Health and wellness

Staying active is important for older people as it helps keep the body working as it should. 

Day centres often facilitate gentle exercise classes such as chair yoga for seniors, dance or morning stretches.

Not only are these activities important for health, classes are a great place to connect socially with others and have fun. 

Some centres also offer health and wellness services such as hairdressing, chiropody and physiotherapy sessions.

day centre dementia

How to join a day centre

Most day centres require a referral in order for you to use their services. 

This referral can come from

  • Your GP
  • A social worker
  • Self- referral
  • A friend or relative

Some charities, such as Age UK hold day centre services around the country. 

You can find your local Age UK day centre by entering your postcode in their online tool.


What activities can you expect to find at a day centre?

How much do day centres cost?

In January 2023, the cost of an adult day centre was at a base rate of around £35. 

This price can increase depending on the level of care required, plus transport and other additional services. 

Prices also vary for a full or half-day rate.

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Care needs assessment

If you haven’t already, one of the first things to do is get a care needs assessment. 

This will help to establish what your care needs are, as well as how you will pay for services that you use. 

If daycare is stipulated as part of your social care needs in your care plan, you may get funding to attend. 

Funding care

The cost of attending a day centre may be included in your care plan which you receive after your care needs assessment. 

Paying for home care and day centres depends on what social care needs you have, plus your financial situation. 

You may also be eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare funding if you have a primary healthcare need.

Are you worried about a loved one?

Early signs of dementia free guide

Care cost benefits

You may be entitled to some financial benefits for elderly to help pay for care services if you

  • are over state pension age
  • have an illness or disability that you need support with 
  • receive other benefits related to your age, health or social needs
What is a day centre

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Alistair Clay Author

Author 10.02.2023

Alistair Clay

Alistair is a founding Director of Sweet Pea Care and the Managing Director of social care communications agency Arc Seven where he advises some of the UK’s biggest care providers.