Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Assisted living push set for next step

With a strategic action plan now in place, the local Assisted Living Action Group is looking to find funding for a feasibility study and locate the best possible future site for an assisted living facility in Rainy River District.
And while there’s still much work to do, “Aging With Dignity,” which was launched last Wednesday morning at the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre, definitely is another step forward in determining a long-term housing solution for the aging population here, according to several individuals who attended the event.

Allan Katz, CEO of Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc., said Riverside as a corporation is “exceptionally supportive” of the work that A.L.A.G. is doing.
“Their vision, ‘Aging with Dignity,’ is something that we obviously want to do everything we can within our mandate to support,” he remarked.
“Their mission to establish sustainable transitional living as an option fills a need that we currently don’t have in our community.”
Katz said he has some experience with assisted living. His own in-laws were in an assisted living facility for some time and it met their needs until they had to be placed in long-term care.
Katz added Lori Maki, executive vice-president and chief nursing executive for Riverside as well as an A.L.A.G. member, is working with the core planning team to submit a funding proposal to the North West LHIN for a feasibility study.
“Certainly this fits very nicely with Dr. Samir Sinha’s recent seniors’ living strategy which was published earlier this month by the Ministry of Health,” he noted.
“It speaks very frequently and highly of the role that supportive housing and assisted living can play in a continuum of care for a community.”
Dan McCormick, CAO of Rainy River District Social
Services Administration Board, said that from a district perspective, he thinks “Aging with Dignity” is “a great initiative.”
“From what I saw, [A.L.A.G.] is a positive group and they’re basically strong participants,” he lauded.
McCormick said a feasibility study is definitely the next important step in the process, as this would identify what funding is available and offer a “true needs” analysis.
“They’ve got the concept down pat,” he remarked, adding he has seen assisted living facilities first-hand in southern Ontario.
McCormick said he has a mother-in-law in a facility which essentially is three linked condominiums projects offering varying levels of support from building to building—ranging from independent living to assisted living to a level of care that’s close to long-term care.
“It keeps them in one location, it keeps them in their community,” he reasoned.
The local DSSAB has representatives on both A.L.A.G. and its parent group, Seniors And Law enforcement Together (S.A.L.T.)
Fort Frances Coun. Ken Perry said he supports what is being done, but in the end it all will depend on whether or not funding is available.
“They’re working hard at it, they’re trying really to do it,” he noted. “But like every other project in this town, we’re short of money and they’re short of money.
“They’re looking for funds for committees to investigate stuff and to hire consultants,” Coun. Perry added. “The bottom line is they got to spend $6-10 million, so what’s a couple hundred thousand for some studies that have to be done?
“To me, if you’re going to go to the government, you better got the gusto,” he warned.
Coun. Perry reiterated “it’s going to be a tough go,” especially since the project applies to a limited albeit growing sector of the population.
“It’s not something for everybody, it’s something for old people,” he remarked.
“I am getting there, too. Don’t get me wrong. But when we raised money for the community auditorium, it was for the whole community.
“When we raised money for the [digital mammography unit], that was for the whole community, at least the female community,” he reasoned. “And when we raised money for a CT scan, it’s for everybody.
“But now we’re limiting it down to old people, and it’s going to be a tough go. It really is.”
That said, Coun. Perry admitted there “is a huge need for it and it’s going to get bigger every day.”
“They’re definitely working extremely hard at what they want to do, their plan for three years,” said Emo Coun. Anthony Leek, who attended last week’s launch as well as A.L.A.G.’s strategic planning session back in October.
“It’s definitely an aggressive plan but I think that they’re really showing that it’s necessary to do.
“I think that it’s well-focused,” he added. “It’s just making sure to hit all the deadlines and make sure that the timelines continue to stay in place.”
Coun. Leek said A.L.A.G. is continuing to work in the right direction and as time has gone on, there’s more and more public awareness of the need for assisted living here.
“It’s really good to see people are highly-motivated, and more and more people are getting involved and want to help out in some way, shape or form,” he remarked.
Coun. Leek said he feels there’s an increasing need for assisted living in the district.
“We want to keep people here, and any way to help them out is a good thing,” he stressed, adding that the district has long-term care and hospitals, with assisted living being what’s missing from the equation.
“There’s plenty of need for it,” Coun. Leek noted. “We have an aging population who want to stay near where they grew up or where they worked and raised a family, and we want to be able to keep them and provide that option.
“There’s a growing need.”
La Vallee Reeve Ross Donaldson said last Wednesday’s launch was the first A.L.A.G. meeting he had attended, and he was “very impressed their strategic plan and how far they have gotten so far.”
“It’s a pretty ambitious plan. The funding could be the downfall,” he admitted.
“I think we have everything else in place,” Reeve Donaldson added. “We certainly have people committed and able to put something like that together, but the funding is going to be the tough one.
“But I was impressed with the progress they’ve made so far,” he lauded. “I thought it was a good presentation with a lot of interesting information.
Reeve Donaldson also agreed “there’s definitely a need” for assisted living for district residents.

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