New continuing care facility for Red Deer

Red Deer will be one of the first locations for a new continuing care facility modelling a new style of senior living.

Fred Horne, minister of health and wellness, and Patrick Dumelie, Covenant Health president and CEO, presented the idea behind the new model last week.

“If I could sum it up in one way it is about taking away the focus on money and beds and institutions and refocusing continuing care on people, families and communities,” said Horne.

Horne talked about the ‘old’ system of senior care in which a senior with low level care needs lived in one facility but as their care needs grew they were required to move to a new facility.

“The thing that distinguishes this system is that it allows aging in place. By that we mean designing a facility that allows us to find and support the needs of seniors as they change over time,” said Horne.

The new model of continuing care will provide numerous levels of care without the senior having to move.

Horne said the levels of care provided can be from quite minimal for an independent senior all the way to supportive living, long term care and support for end of life care.

Part of the reasoning behind providing better support for end of life care, Horne said, is to help take the focus off of hospitals for those seniors to help shorten wait times for beds.

“We recognized that seniors needed change over time. They don’t cope with these issues by themselves they’re supported by their families and communities,” said Horne.

Dumelie said some of the greatest features about the new building is that it will allow seniors to personalize their space.

“We are simply committed to those who are most vulnerable in our communities. For us, this is a privilege to be trusted with this very important work,” said Dumelie.

There will be two new facilities built and the goal is to have them completed within two years of their start dates. Construction is expected to begin on both facilities in April.

The other location for this project is in Calgary.

“We believe that we will have a very positive impact on the community members as well as across the province,” said Dumelie.

Dumelie said that from talking to the public, Covenant Health learned that sometimes seniors experience gaps and barriers in service.

“Things like lack of support and services that can’t adapt to their changing needs and isolation from loved ones as they change facilities,” said Dumelie.

The new model of continuing care aims to change these gaps and barriers and one way in which they are doing that is by allowing senior couples to remain together even if only one of the two people needs care.

“We need to ensure that they enjoy life no matter what. We took what we learned from our care teams and incorporated that into these facilities. The key here is maximum flexibility,” said Dumelie.

Mayor Morris Flewwelling said that it is an important shift to see care change from a senior fitting into a facility, to a facility that accommodates the senior.

“It feels totally normal for Red Deer to be leading the way. We had the first senior care facility in Canada, so we’ve been at this for 55 years,” said Flewwelling.

Red Deer was chosen alongside Calgary to see what the impact and issues would be about building in a large city versus a smaller city and Red Deer was chosen as that small city model.