Waconia adult day services program closes its doors

After 45 years of caring for Carver County seniors, veterans, and clients with a range of medical conditions, as of Sunday, April 2, Waconia’s Encore adult day services program is now a thing of the past.

Encore served thousands of clients over the years; providing a social arena for otherwise isolated seniors. But Encore was one of a dying breed of its type of day-time senior-focused facility, and now it’s the latest local way of life impacted by the pandemic.

"It was very hurtful when we found out it was going away from Carver County. We weren’t given any notice," Blake Klaustermeier said. "I just wish there could’ve been more done to keep this program going after 45 years." Blake’s grandfather Hilliard was one of about 20 seniors using the facility this year. 

In 2022, the program served about 40 people; but Carver County says it would’ve needed 80 clients to be financially viable.

From the start of the pandemic, Encore was closed for 19 months. Then, by the time it returned in 2021, most of its former clients did not come back. Carver County says it tried to recruit new clients more but ultimately found that was a lost cause. 

In a statement, Carver County Health and Human Services director Heather Goodwin wrote:

"Carver County has been proud and honored to serve our community for the past 45 years. The decision to close Encore was not made lightly or without careful consideration. For the community members the program served we recognize this service was extremely valuable. We are all saddened that the program’s significant revenue shortfall necessitated we do what is fiscally responsible to taxpayers, which unfortunately was closing Encore."

Hilliard says he’ll miss the conversation and camaraderie he enjoyed at Encore, "you get tired of counting the nail holes in the wall," the 91-year-old veteran explained. His grandson Blake valued the physical therapy his grandfather received at Encore, "his life was progressively getting worse with dementia, so this was a good break for him to come here," Blake finished.