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Niverville Sets A New Standard For Caring For Seniors

Thanks to some creative ingenuity, Niverville will open the doors on the largest personal care home in southeastern Manitoba in 2013.

The 80-bed $11.3-million facility will be built next to the Niverville Heritage Centre, an 80,000-square-foot complex now home to a primary health-care centre and medical, physiotherapy and dental clinics, plus a day care and community events centre.

The new personal care home will also be linked to the Niverville Credit Union Manor, an assisted-living and supportive- care residence for seniors and people with disabilities.

All of this in a community with no hospital and that, not long ago, couldn’t make a case for government funding for even a much smaller care home.

“The key through all of this was, in a non-partisan way, committing to partnerships and recognizing that this was not just about Niverville … but about the region and indeed the province,” said Gordon Daman, president of Niverville Heritage Holdings Inc. (NHHI), the entity responsible for the project.

The project is a new model for the future of health care for the entire province, he said.

A few years back, Niverville committed itself to the concept of “aging in place,” because too many of its older citizens were moving away, he said. But since the town has one of the youngest populations in the province, its demographics didn’t merit building seniors’ housing.

“It was made very clear to us by Manitoba Health and the RHA (regional health authority) that as long as our demographics stayed the way they were … there was no way to justify a personal care home,” Daman said.

A turning point came in 2001, when town councillors returned from Minnesota inspired by a facility they toured that combined commercial and professional services with assistedliving residences for seniors.

Several funding and feasibility studies later, a local fund-raising began with the goal of putting $2 million towards constructing the Niverville Heritage Centre.

In 2005, the town created Niverville Heritage Holdings Inc., a not-for-profit corporation, to own, develop, and manage assets in town and surrounding region. NHHI is the ownership group of the Niverville Heritage Centre. In 2007, construction began on an assisted-living and supportive-housing residence and a spectacular timber-framed atrium that now serves as community gathering place. The centre is also home to the health-care centre and other facilities.

More recently, NHHI purchased the 105-year-old St. Adolphe convent for the Sisters of the Cross personal care home, which due to its age, needed replacing, but was at risk of flooding in its present location.

The plan now is to replace that former 42-bed home with the new 80-bed one in Niverville, said Daman.

Another key factor was community support and the fact NHHI is a not for profit. Residents contributed $1.2 million toward the project while local contractors agreed to drop their rates by as much as 25 per cent – for savings of about $3 million in construction costs.

The project has clearly impressed the provincial government, which announced it plans to partner with NHHI and provide an additional $1.7 million in new operating funds, including funding for a special-care unit for residents with dementia, aggression, and other challenging behaviour. The new personal care home is expected to reduce personal care home wait lists in the region.

It will also be a model for providing services to the seniors because programs and services for the combined assistedliving and supportive-housing units are linked, and because the facility is physically connected to a community gathering spot.

“We recognized that in order to have an aging-in-place philosophy in the community, we had to also recognize that seniors as a demographic today are very different than they used to be,” said Daman.

“In the past, when you created a personal care home, they’d be put in a corner. Seniors today are more mobile, more active, and as they get into their later years want to still be part of a community. We developed a plan around a facility where we would ensure that there would be community activity of all ages.”

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Thekeythrough allofthiswas, inanon-partisan way,committingto partnershipsand recognizingthatthis wasnotjustabout Niverville…butabout theregionandindeed theprovince.”

Gordon Daman, President Niverville Heritage Holdings Inc.

About the author

Reporter

Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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