We want to start something amazing! I guess you can call us community builders, who with our various educational studies were sparked to do something great. Each of us decided in our hearts to cheerfully give of our time, talents, skills and money to work towards something BIG in our community. Our steering committee is made up of graduates from Humber College, St. Clair College, Lambton College, and Fanshawe College with combined diplomas in Business Marketing, Journalism, Office Administration, Medical Office Administration, Funeral Services (Funeral Director), and a current student studying Social Service Worker (Gerontology).
We have been dismayed with the true stories of seniors struggling with aging and the unimaginable harm that comes to them. It scares us that one day our loved ones may have to enter a care facility and live by the care models currently in place. Some of us have gone through the process of finding care for our elderly loved ones suffering from the effects of aging and found the current care offerings lacking, generally in care, but especially for those with dementia. We have found that elderly couples are especially discriminated against and often are separated when one requires more care than the other. Not only that, but in rural communities across Ontario, seniors have to leave the communities they live in to acquire the care they need; that just isn’t right. Is there a better way? Is there hope?
Today’s senior care models sound institutional and are filled with the trendy phrases and care models that management groups instinctively use as well as budgetary focuses on cutting costs for investor satisfaction. Our local seniors have worked and been tremendously involved in the development of the local rural community fabric and should not quietly fade from our community in institutional styled care facilities, but to live a dignified life where the human spirit shines until the last breath.
Did you know that more than 656,000 spouses are primary caregivers at home for their husbands or wives, according to the Statistics Canada 2012 portrait of caregivers? Of those, many are older than 75 with their own chronic health problems and as you know, folks with dementia have very different needs from their spouses. You can’t divorce the two; both have to be doing well for either one to be doing well. Dementia is a growing problem. According to the Alzheimer Society Canada, one out of 20 Canadians over 65 has Alzheimer's disease, and that figure jumps to one in four for Canadians over 85. In 2012, the World Health Organization declared dementia a public health priority.
Our combined educational studies have overwhelmingly given us a huge foundation and provided great support to this project. Jean Dupuis is a current student studying Social Service Worker – Gerontology and brings current and pertinent information to interject into the project development as well as a BIG caring heart for the elderly to this project. Brenda Goodreau brings Business -Marketing and Office Administration expertise. Jennifer Devries, with the help of her studies in Funeral Services, brings her vast knowledge of death and dying and the various aspects of grief and loss. Janice Hooyer with the help of her studies in Office Administration Medical is amazingly organized and familiar with medical terminology and the practical systems needed to work through this project. Heather Wright, now owner and editor of the Petrolia Topic and The Herald, is vastly connected to the community and its people due to her acquired knowledge from her Broadcast Journalism studies.
We, with the help of others, have joined together to seek to put love into action and to fill a need in our community by investigating and implementing a charitable, faith-based, multi-care level campus for seniors. Senior City brings people together to honour, respect and care for local seniors who require specialized care in a campus style senior city. Through careful study and tea with seniors, we have quantified their wants and their needs which has been compiled into a provocative, one of a kind, 10 – 15 acre community called Senior City Christian Community of Chatham-Kent but lovely know as Senior City.
Chatham-Kent is a rural, agricultural community and its graying population is a perfect location for this innovative campus style community suited to the specific wants and needs of seniors suffering from the effects of aging in Chatham-Kent. Senior City is a place where seniors are not patients or residents, but rather citizens. Though still in the planning phase and awaiting charitable designation; work continues. The city style campus will have tiny detached single floor accessible houses for seniors to rent and live independently, assisted living options, plus excellently designed nursing, dementia care and palliative care areas. Couples who have lived a long life together need not worry about separation from one another because all care levels are available on one campus.
This steering committee has researched and heard from various experts and seniors in an attempt to identify innovation opportunities. Dr. Tom Mikkleson, from the Ontario Brain Institute, subscribes to the idea that one can optimize quality of life by taking care of brain health. He notes that intellectual stimulation and exercise, including brain exercise, is an excellent way to keep our brain as healthy as it can be. In the city centre, specifically designed for seniors suffering from dementia, imagine a cinema, coffee shop, gift shop, feed and seed store, restaurant, grocery store, library, spa, barbershop, safe outdoor gardens and walking trails each established to help exercise the brain. The spacious property will be well groomed with walking/bike trails for three-wheeled bikes and pathways for electric golf carts for fun outdoor rides with family and friends. A greenhouse, vegetable garden and animal barn help to make farm life accessible again through well-trained staff that is able to help seniors do what they love. A farm yard, warm indoor pool, dance floor, theatre and recreational fishing area all help to provide easy access to the things seniors love and miss.
It is expected that the state of the art campus will become less reliant on traditional energy sources by supplementing with solar and geothermal as well as innovative building design technology. Keeping living expenses down for citizens of Senior City is a priority and by generating income through various means, such as room rentals to out of town family and friends as well as offering a public salon, restaurant, workshops and pool use.
The budget for this overall cost is reaching into the millions of dollars, but this project consisting of architectural work, drawings, sketches and schematics for the entire project will cost $14,500.00 to $15,000.00. We hope that these funds will come from Start Something Amazing. The plans and drawings will be created based on the data we have collected and researched which highlight innovative directions. These plans will take 6 – 8 months to create. The measurable outcome will include completed drawings and designs. Besides being extremely necessary to building this project, these designs and drawings will be available to interested parties wanting to study and use them to recreate a similar project in their own community. The future of senior care needs innovation and Senior City is the answer.
We, with the help of others, have joined together to seek to put love into action and to fill a need in our community by investigating and implementing a charitable, faith-based, multi-care level campus for seniors. Senior City brings people together to honour, respect and care for local seniors who require specialized care in a campus style senior city. It will keep seniors in their own communities, keep married couples together, be affordable and an economic benefit to the rural community. The knowledge and build plans will be available to interested parties wanting to study and use them to recreate a similar plan in their own community.
The architectural work, drawings, sketches and schematics will be created based on the data we have collected and researched which highlight innovative directions. These plans will take 6 – 8 months to create. The measurable outcome will include completed plans, drawings and designs.