Assisted living draws interest

Heather Latter

Community partners are pleased with the turnout for the grand-opening of the Fort Frances Assisted Living Program here Friday.
The program, which has been running since March, still has spaces available.
As such, those involved decided to hold an open house so people could stop by to find out more about the program.
“Our goal is to let more people know and see what assisted living is, what a unit might look like for them, and put the awareness out there,” said Brenda Wood, manager of Community Support Services for Rainy River District Home Support.
“We want to make sure the public knows what’s out there,” echoed Sandra Weir, Integrated Services Manager for the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board.
The Fort Frances Assisted Living Program is available through Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc. operating Community Support Services in collaboration with DSSAB.
The North West Local Health Integration Network provided funding to serve 12 individuals who reside in either Green Manor or Rose Manor here.
There still are a few of those 12 spaces available and there also are vacant units in the manors.
“We want to give people an awareness that we work with housing and the CCAC to deliver this to them,” Wood remarked.
“It’s not a CCAC [Community Care Access Centre] program or a home support program,” she stressed.
“It’s a community partnership and it’s a needed service,” she noted, adding that was evident by the number of people who turned out for Friday’s open house.
People received information packages, enjoyed refreshments, visited the program office at Green Manor, and viewed a vacant unit.
“It was a lovely turnout,” Wood enthused.
“I was surprised by the number of people who came through,” admitted Weir, noting she wished she had brought more pamphlets to distribute.
“I heard a lot of positive comments,” she added.
“People were saying that it was worth going in for a look and that it wasn’t what they expected,” said April Spzara, who attended the open house.
“People were quite happy to come in and have a look,” said Wood.
“Some were even talking about fitting their furniture in the empty unit, so maybe there will be some new people moving in.”
But Weir said it wasn’t just people looking to access assisted living who came out.
“There were people who work with elderly who came by,” she noted.
“Having the open house wasn’t just about those people that need to come to assisted living, but the community awareness that people can pass on.”
Meanwhile, one of the first seniors utilizing the program is thrilled to be part of it.
“It’s really wonderful for me,” boasted the 91-year-old resident of Rose Manor.
“I wouldn’t be able to live here if it wasn’t for assisted living.”
She said without assisted living, she would be in Rainycrest.
The woman requires assistance getting in and out of the tub, and also receives help with other daily chores, such as vacuuming, dishes, and making her bed, because her knees are bad and she can’t stand for long periods of time.
And she added she’s never lonely living in Rose Manor.
“There’s lots of nice people around so you don’t have to be alone if you don’t want to be,” she noted.
She also said she has a good rapport with the Personal Support Workers.
“I have nothing but good things to say about the program,” she stressed, adding she certainly would recommend it to other seniors.
“I’m very grateful for this program.”
Ted Scholten, CEO of Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc., said the open house also provided an opportunity to recognize the hard work of Wood, Weir, and Stephanie Weir of Community Support Services Fort Frances.
“This was a lot of years in the making,” Sandra Weir noted.
“It wasn’t something that just happened overnight,” she stressed, adding there were about two-and-a-half years of plans and discussions.
The community partners are hoping they will fill the remaining few spots in the program.
It’s also hoped there will be another 12 spots here next year, as well as some possibly in Emo down the road.
Stephanie Weir explained the assignment of assisted living of an individual is to the individual, not to a unit, which has been a misconception of the service.
“Some people have a misconception that units have been retrofitted or something done to it,” she noted.
“But really, we bring the service to the individual,” she clarified.
Those interested in accessing assisted living at these two manors have to undergo an assessment through Community Care Access Centre to determine whether they are eligible.
Weir noted the program is subsidized and therefore costs about $120-$150 a month (which includes the Lifeline service).
What the individual receives for that payment is based on their needs—needs that are identified through their assessment with the CCAC.
Assistance is available for everything from light housekeeping, meals, laundry, and bathing to medication reminders, keeping track of appointments, and wellness checks.
Staff are available to respond to any calls for assistance from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. But someone actually is on-site from 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and 3-7 p.m.
“Seniors want to remain living as independent as possible, with some help,” Wood noted.
“That’s what assisted living is all about.”
For more information, call Weir at 274-2244.