While the majority of the $2-million renovations at Rainycrest have entailed work not apparent to the eye (namely, improving drainage at the north-end site), the facility also has been improved in several visible ways for the benefit of staff, residents, and visitors alike.
On a tour of the facility Friday morning, administrator Edith Bodnar took some time to highlight the improvements, which includes rebuilding of four courtyards which had fallen into disrepair over the years.
While not quite complete yet, these courtyards will feature cement walkways and railings to hold onto, sun umbrellas for shade, as well as trees and shrubs.
“The courtyards were unusable, they were unsafe, so the residents weren’t allowed to go out in them,” noted Bodnar. “Now, with the renovations, they’re going to be able to use them daily, except in the winter, of course.
“[The residents] love going outside, and they’ve really missed that in the last couple of years.”
Bodnar pointed to the courtyard located off the special care unit, which already is full of flowers and plants, and decked out with tables, chairs, and a gazebo donated by residents’ families and friends as well as staff and their family and friends, and said she hopes the newly-renovated ones will look just as the beautiful.
An unplanned spin-off from the courtyard work has been the two outdoor alcoves located on either side of the main entrance. These areas previously had been full of rocks and shrubs, but were cleared out and paved with reused bricks from the old courtyards.
Now, the two spots are seating areas with a table and chairs and, depending on the time of day, sunny southern exposure.
“The alcoves in the front entrance have been very popular with the residents,” Bodnar said. “Activation has taken residents out there. They’re sheltered from the elements.
“They’re well-utilized by family and the residents and staff . . . we’ve have lots of positive comments,” she added.
The improvements also include two new, larger, and more modern nurses’ stations, located in the west and east ends of the facility.
“The nursing stations have improved the work life of the staff,” Bodnar said. “They’re better surroundings and make it easier to work with the programs.”
Another renovation was the conversion of one room into a new dining area—complete with fireplace—to accommodate the 19 extra beds Rainycrest opened in January.
All of the windows in the residents’ rooms also have been replaced as part of the upgrade.
As mentioned above, the work also included replacing weeping tile and improving drainage at the property—a necessary improvement, said Bodnar.
“We have about 18 pumps downstairs that work constantly,” she noted. “This is going to decrease the amount of water that seeps down there, and it will be a much drier environment.”
This round of renovations was funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, but some aspects still require the continued support of the community—and groups like the Rainycrest Auxiliary and Riverside Foundation for Health Care.
“What we need now is furnishings for the courtyards that will withstand the elements, as well, so we can beautify them and make them much more pleasant,” said Bodnar, citing one example.
Bodnar also said the renovations mark the beginning of a long-term re-development plan, and that the public can expect to see more changes down the road.
“The ministry is doing a re-development of all ‘B’ and ‘C’ homes,” Bodnar noted. “We’re a ‘C’ home, so in the next 10 years, we have to re-develop up to an ‘A’ standard home.
“So that’s all in the works, and we’ll be looking to the Foundation to do a lot of fundraising for that because the ministry only funds part of it.
“We will be looking for further community support, definitely,” she stressed.
Bodnar said future expansions will include increasing the number of residential units, and adding more dining rooms and more activation areas as per ministry regulations.
“Our goal is to make this a real home for the residents that are here—to make it the most comfortable and stress-free place it can be,” said Riverside Foundation director Teresa Hazel.
“And to provide an environment for the families to come and visit and enjoy; so they know their loved ones are in a safe environment,” echoed Bodnar.
To donate to projects at Rainycrest, contact the Riverside Foundation for Health Care at 274-4803.