Flexible care model transforms seniors' care in the Killam community

At 97, George Gascoyne has no intention of slowing down.

A Flagstaff County resident his entire life, George has never been a man of idle hands. He grew up on the family farm and later married his wife Mary, with whom he raised two daughters and operated his own electrical business for many years.

Today, George still keeps busy, undaunted by the diabetes that limits the feeling in his feet and lower legs. You’ll often find the Killam Health Centre resident building puzzles, playing cards or venturing out into the community.

George Gascoyne, a Killam Health Centre resident, is looking forward to his own private suite.

“I don’t spend a lot of time in my room,” says George, chair of the centre’s Resident and Family Council. 

George is one of the 38 current Killam Health Centre residents who is moving into a new, home-like resident care building designed to provide flexible care, including supportive living, long-term care and dementia care. The adaptable design means residents can stay at the site—often in the same room—as their needs change.

The new building and care model also ensure that Killam area residents now have access to supportive living and dementia care. 

“By offering different levels of care in a small rural community, residents can access care in their home community without moving away,” says Geri Clark, Site Administrator at Killam Health Centre. “People can come to Killam Health Centre needing supportive living and don’t have to move facilities if they need more care down the road.”

That ability to stay in one place allows people in care to stay connected with their community—a key to seniors’ quality of life, says Sheli Murphy, Senior Director of Operations for Rural Services at Covenant Health.

“We know people have strong roots in their communities, and in rural areas there are often fewer care options,” says Sheli. “When seniors have lived most of their lives in a community, it’s particularly important for them to be able to stay, even as their needs change.”

The new resident care building is the first of two phases in the Killam Campus of Caring project. Slated to begin in October 2019, the second phase will see work begin to modernize the original building, including the creation of six single-resident suites and four couple suites. 

“Killam Health Centre is a cornerstone of the community, and this redevelopment means we’re able to provide the very best care to seniors,” says Sheli.

The new building has been carefully designed to incorporate resident privacy, comfort and independence. Designed in consultation with staff, residents and families, the new facility boasts 40 spacious, private resident suites, each with its own fully accessible bathroom. And thanks to its more home-like design, residents will dine in three small rooms instead of a central one. As well, residents can enjoy spending time outdoors in two secure courtyards. 

The new building is designed to offer residents plenty of space for daily living. Formerly, they would share rooms and bathrooms.

Geri says engaging residents and their families in the design process helped ensure no detail was overlooked.

“For example, residents told us they wanted locks on their doors and windows that could open in their rooms,” Geri says. “We made sure we could offer those things, because of course that is what any of us would expect in our homes.”

While George hasn’t minded sharing a room during his year at Killam Health Centre, there’s one thing in particular the former baseball umpire is looking forward to in his new private suite.

“I’m excited to have my own TV,” George says with a smile. “This way I can watch fastball anytime.”

George’s daughter, Gwen Simpson, is excited about the new living quarters for her dad.

“I know he’ll enjoy his own room and playing his own music,” Gwen says with a smile. “It won’t be just a room—it’ll be a home.”

And Gwen says it’s reassuring to know that seniors in the community will have access to home-like, individualized care when they need it.

“This is really important to us,” she says. “I know a lot of us wonder where we will go when we can’t live at home anymore. And like my dad, I want to have a home, not just a bed.”

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