• adult day care;
  • gerontology;
  • northern Canada;
  • community nursing

Abstract  This qualitative study explores older adults', caregivers', and nurses' perceptions regarding adult day care (ADC). The study took place in two small towns and one small city in the northern interior region of British Columbia, Canada, with the intent to develop ADC programs that reflect the needs of older persons and their caregivers. The 32 participants contributed their perceptions in focus groups and individual interviews. The interviews, in this descriptive/exploratory study, were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using inductive, qualitative techniques. The participants acknowledged ADC services as essential to the health and well-being of older adults and their caregivers. The major themes that emerged were need for respite; aging in place; ADC programming; program characteristics; staff knowledge, skills, and attitudes; and northern perspectives. The study participants identified a number of possible reasons for underuse of ADC programming in the north. This study provides information that can facilitate the grounding of ADC policy within the clients' perspectives and a northern context. The participants' thoughts also highlight areas of policy that have broad applicability to the provision of services to the elderly in any setting.