A.L.A.G. gives thumb’s up to Falls facility
The local Assisted Living Action Group (A.L.A.G.) gathered research last week during a tour of the new Good Samaritan Society—Northwinds Assisted Living facility over in International Falls.
The new complex, located on Keenan Drive (near Rainy River Community College), officially opened its doors to tenants last Monday and already has a handful living there.
He explained the new building is designed in three “neighborhoods” of eight apartments (for as total of 24), with personalized levels of care for each tenant.
Each assisted-living apartment includes a living room, bedroom, private bath, and a kitchenette, but are furnished with the tenants’ own belongings.
This helps create a comfortable, homey environment, with the added benefits like assistance with medication, personal care, and the security of 24-hour staff.
Three levels of care are offered depending on the needs of the tenant.
Some of these care services offered include:
•RN oversight of all care provided and on call 24/7;
•24-hour awake staff;
•dressing, grooming, and bathing assistance;
•medication set-up, as well as administration by professional trained staff;
•help arranging medical appointments and transportation;
•access to physical, occupational, and speech therapy; and
•care co-ordination with physicians.
The residents also benefit from an emergency response system, light housekeeping weekly, and three nutritious meals a day.
There also are recreational, social, and religious activities; a social hour each day with snacks; access to common areas and amenities, including a work/craft room; a wellness room, laundry rooms, a party room (where tenants can entertain guests), a gardening room, and gathering areas; and access to campus common areas, including a hair salon, fellowship hall, library, and café/bistro.
Most of the apartments measure 496 sq. ft. in size, but a few are 512 sq. ft.
The basic package of room, board, and amenities costs about $3,500/month (U.S.), although higher levels of care and amenities will cost more (three of the apartments are subsidized; the other 21 are private pay).
A grand opening for the assisted living facility is slated for Wednesday, Oct. 9.
The assisted-living complex is connected to a new long-term care home featuring 54 rehabilitation/skilled care private suites, an in-patient and out-patient rehab therapy centre, and home care services.
Residents currently residing at the old nursing home in the Falls will be moving into the new one shortly.
The complex is situated so that hopefully in future, a new hospital will be built next to it.
Certain services, such as laundry and food preparation, have been located at the far end of the long-term care home so that potentially these will be able to provided to the future hospital without having to duplicate services.
The Good Samaritan Society also operates the River’s Edge Villa, which are called housing with services—essentially, an independent living complex offering non-medical services such as laundry, food preparation, and the like.
A.L.A.G. members walked away impressed by the assisted-living facility, and will use what they learned while planning to have a combined independent living and assisted living facility built here in future.
“It was very well-thought out,” said Schulz, who is co-chair of the local Seniors and Law Enforcement Together (S.A.L.T.)
“Very spacious, lots of room,” he added.
“I think the people who live there are going to be quite happy,” noted Bob Armit.
“We’re very fortunate to have that expertise right next door,” said Erma Armit, adding Good Samaritan is very accommodating and she would like A.L.A.G. members to visit River’s Edge Villa in future.
The group learned that geothermal heating is not necessarily the most cost-effective way to heat a very large building—unless it is right next to a lake or river.
They also learned the decision whether to build a several-storey building is not as simple as it sounds.
Northwinds Assisted Living is one-storey tall.
During the tour, Coe told Armit that the building is a wood structure now, but might have to be a steel structure had it been built two-storeys high.
Elevators also would be needed, requiring compliance to different building code requirements.
As well, staffing one level is much more efficient than two, especially when it comes to responding to tenants, Coe added.
Bob Armit said it was some of the small details that he found interesting.
For example, the assisted-living complex is divided into “neighborhoods,” and he liked the notion of “communities within communities,” just like Fort Frances has its east end, west end, and north end.
Other touches such as flooring, as well as closets inside and outside apartments (the latter of which are used to separately store clean linens, secured medications, and dirty laundry so they are accessible to staff).
Erma Armit noted certain areas of the new facility, such as the salon, will be opened to the public to pay to use.
Having services that anyone can use is something she’d like to see in a future facility on this side of the border.
“We’d like to have, for example, a cafeteria so that people could come in from the community and order a meal,” she said, adding that having a business model like that is necessary to generate income for the long-term sustainability of such a facility.
A.L.A.G. has not let up on its goal to see a facility built here in future.
The group has applied for funding to have a feasibility study done and continues to gather information—research it will use, with whatever findings a feasibility study might reveal, to find the best possible means to meet the demand for the right housing for local seniors.
“We’re looking at how we can customize a building that would be a model that doesn’t necessarily currently exist,” said Erma Armit.
“We’re taking pieces of different things to meet the needs of our community.
“We certainly have lots of input from our surveys, our research, and our personal contacts that indicate the need,” she added.
“It’s a major, major need in our community.”
“Our goal is for the people living in their golden years to be as happy as we can possibly make them,” echoed Bob Armit.
“That isn’t the case right now,” he stressed. “A lot of people are struggling at home just to survive.”
Hallikas, who took the tour as a citizen and not in his capacity as town councillor, said he is supportive of A.L.A.G. and has attended quite a few of its meetings.
“My impression is, first of all, they have a beautiful facility over here, and the more that I see, the more I become aware that there are several models for assisted living,” he noted.
“I see different opportunities in Fort Frances,” Hallikas added. “For example, I could see some really good things being done at Rainycrest in terms of doing similar that they’ve done here.
“That might not be for all people—some people might want a higher level [of comfort] or more room—but the bottom line is it’s always going to come down to money,” he noted.
“You do have to make things affordable to people,” Hallikas stressed. “If some people can pay a little more, then sure, they should have the right to get something different.
“But I would like to see something in Fort Frances that’s affordable for everybody.”
Hallikas reiterated he is supportive of A.L.A.G.
“Any time you get a group of citizens volunteering to take on a project of this magnitude, and go forward with it, they deserve a pat on the back,” he lauded.
Those who would like more information on Northwinds Assisted Living can call Danette Nixon at 1-218-285-9563 or visit www.good-sam.com