Seniors Campuses…. Why didn’t we do this before?

With improvements in health and life expectancy, more of us are living into old age, and for longer than ever before. This will take on even greater significance over the next two decades as the number of Canadians aged 65 years and older is expected nearly to double. Indeed, 2015 is the first year Canadians aged 65 and over outnumbered those who are younger than 15 years of age. And by 2035 there will be more than 10 million older adults living in Canada, who will also account for roughly one-quarter of Canada’s population, up from 16 percent in 2015.

What are the consequences for how we organize our communities and local services to allow individuals to remain engaged and active members in our communities for as long as possible? (Institute for research on public policy, "Designing a National Seniors Strategy for Canada).

Good Question. At this year’s Association of Municipalities of Ontario Conference I attended a seminar on "Building a Seniors Campus – A sustainable model to support positive aging and strengthen our communities". The County of Simcoe held this seminar and provided examples of two Senior Campus’s within their Municipalities: SimcoeVillage https://www.simcoe.ca/dpt/ltc/simcoe and Georgian Village https://www.simcoe.ca/LongTermCare/Pages/georgian.aspx.

It piqued my interest because I am aware that The Region of Niagara is in the process of planning to redevelop two of its long term care facilities "Linhaven" in St. Catharines, and Gilmore Lodge in Fort Erie into Seniors Campus. The goal is to create mini communities if you will that will support people right from the downsizing stage of life right through to the end of life.

These campuses are very much in the planning stage now but some of the potential facilities on the sites could be: Palliative Care facilities, Alzheimer Care, Long Term Care, Assisted Living, Independent Living, Affordable Housing etc. ..Great idea. The goal is also to design spaces that attract private investment in the form of value added commercial uses. Coffee shops, hair salons, clothing shops, medical offices, drug stores… In other words the Region is proposing to develop complete communities for seniors.

The following services are services that could be available to seniors living independently within the campus: nursing and personal care, medication management, attendant care, meals, housecleaning, laundry, and transportation, physiotherapy, occupational and recreational therapy, dental, pharmacy, audiology.

These communities make sense not only because they support the Region’s ability to coordinate and customize care on an individual basis according to changing needs but also because the comprehensive nature of the campuses allows for seamless transitions as people’s needs change.

I was fortunate to be able to keep my mother close by after my father passed away – But it was tough at times. Finding appropriate support, and appropriate housing. That’s another blog post for another time.

Keep your eye out for more on this. Innovative thinking and change that can’t come fast enough.

Dianne Rintjema

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