The demand for assisted living spaces for seniors in the Battlefords is finally being addressed with the opening of the new Harwood Manor complex in North Battleford.
The 72-unit personal care home, which is licensed to hold up to 81 residents, is now open and will be filling up with residents over the next six to eight months. It is located in the city’s north end at 2691 Clements Dr.
Four residents had moved in as of last week and another four were expected this week in what is expected to be a gradual flow over the coming months.
The 50,000 square foot residence is the culmination of blood, sweat and tears on the part of former North Battleford mayor Glenn Hornick, who has spearheaded the project.
Hornick was able to entice Golden Health Care Inc. to come on board as the major shareholder in the project. Golden Health Care is also behind projects in Yorkton and Swift Current. Hornick said $11 million was committed to Harwood Manor.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Hornick.
The biggest challenge was arranging financing and lining up the right investors to ensure the project became a reality, he said.
North Battleford had been losing residents to other communities for 30 years, said Hornick, because of the need for this type of care.
“Something had to be done in the city and I was happy that Golden Health Care was willing to partner with me to come into this venture and make this available for the people of northwest Saskatchewan.”
The News-Optimist toured the new residence last week. Administrator Sue Pruden-McIvor conducted the tour.
From inside, Harwood Manor appears more like a hotel or a condominium than a personal care home in terms of décor and amenities.
The only giveaway was railing on both sides of the hallways and other safety features apparent throughout the complex.
Hornick said the idea was to make the place feel “very much like a home – very residential, not institutional.”
The first major area people see upon entering the building is called the great room, and it will be the setting for entertainment, music, tea, happy hour and other social occasions.
The facility includes four interconnected “houses.” Each is similar in concept with a living room, a large screen TV and a fireplace, a games table, and other features. There are differences in the colours and décor from house to house.
Each “house” area has living quarters for no more than about 20 people.
The houses feature a laundry room that residents can use either by themselves or with the help of staff, depending on their level of ability. Each house also contains a kitchen area and an adjacent dining room.
While there are four separate kitchens, meals are made fresh daily in a central commercial kitchen area by staff, who deliver the meals to dining rooms in each of the four houses.
Each separate kitchen areas offers coffee, toast, fruit juices, cereal and other snacks available any time. The kitchen areas are also designed to allow people to take part in activities such as baking.
There are small touches added to the various living areas designed to make the place feel like home. Visual orientation cues are not big signs or numbers. Residents and visitors will be directed to look for easily identifiable pictures or visual displays to orient themselves.
One area had a visual display featuring a striking pink fish. Pruden-McIvor said it has worked for one of the residents moving in that week, who said she saw the pink fish and immediately knew where she was.
Another of the houses on the north side of the building featured a picture of a wild west show on the wall.
One of the houses has special features in place for those suffering from dementia. A WanderGuard departure alert system, which secures the house to prevent those with dementia from wandering outside and becoming lost. There is also an outdoor area that is walled-in, so those with dementia are able to walk outside without fear of becoming lost or leaving the property.
Another of the houses is adjacent to an outdoor open courtyard area that is not fenced in.
Harwood Manor is also just across the street from a peaceful park area.
There are a number of residential rooms available. The News-Optimist was shown around the Territorial Suite, which is the second-largest suite offered.
Residents bring their own furnishings and are able to decorate it as they wish with curtains, tables, chairs, family pictures and so on. Another aspect unique to Harwood Manor is that pets are welcome.
Each room has a fully wheelchair accessible washroom area.
Harwood Manor features a full hair salon, and also a spa area that provides pedicures and manicures.
There is an exercise room, which is not fully set up yet, and a therapeutic tub room in House Three that includes a large whirlpool and an area for massages.
There is also a room designed to be the “quiet room.” This is set up as a family room to accommodate those whose family members are ill, to offer them some peace and quiet.
There is also a staff lounge area designed for the approximately 30 full time-staff who will be employed there.
The CEO of Harwood Manor, Heather Haupstein, says they are not big on job descriptions.
“We all work as a team and we all cover for each other,” said Haupstein. If a housekeeper is ill, “I would be the housekeeper for that day,” she said.
Haupstein says it’s all about doing what needs to get done “to keep it a happy home for our residents.”
“All our staff are cross-trained to do all aspects of care,” says Pruden-McIvor. There are professional nurses on staff as well as 24/7 personal care attendants, she said.
Haupstein says there is a nurse on duty every day for eight hours a day.
In addition to being permanent living quarters, Harwood Manor also provides respite and convalescent care designed to transition people from the hospital and back into their homes.
They also offer palliative and end-of-life care.
“There is not any type of care that we would not do. We would adapt our care plans and our staff,” said Haupstein.
Harwood Manor is designed to handle levels of care from Level 1 to Level 3 and Level 4 care — from assisted living to “aging in place” as they describe it.
The idea, said Hornick, is to allow seniors to live and have their needs met as they age so they would not be required to move from place to place.
This was an issue that impacted him personally. Hornick noted the struggles his mother faced during her final months, as she was forced to move three times from one care home to another.
Allowing seniors to have their needs met in one place was one mission. Another aspect of Harwood Manor was the importance of keeping husbands and wives together as they grow older.
“I watched this happen with folks who weren’t able to be together,” said Hornick. “They can be together in this facility, and that’s huge.”
Hornick is proud of the finished product and calls it the “best facility in the province of Saskatchewan, and I will stand up and say that. It is the best facility in Saskatchewan.”
He is also happy to have responded to the need in the Northwest. He said that as a former mayor of North Battleford he received many letters highlighting the need for an assisted living home.
Hornick gave credit to City Hall and to previous councils for their support towards getting the project off the ground.
“Without the City’s co-operation and encouragement we might not have done the project,” said Hornick.
“But it’s here and it’s beautiful and we have a lot of good people working here and it’s going to be successful.”