A few years ago W5 visited various senior care lodges across Canada and discovered that there were only four in Canada that were resident directed, and fully endorsed by the Alzheimers Society. Sherbrooke was one of the four. I visited Sherbrooke shortly after W5 aired their program. I talked to the administrator and asked her why there were not more of these lodges built in Canada. She said that in order to build and maintain such a lodge that it took the cooperation of the city, service clubs, churches, volunteers, and grants from the provincial and federal governments.
I then asked her if it cost any more to build and maintain such a lodge. She said no. So why are not more built? The answer is simple. There is no money in building a lodge to meet the needs of the residents, but there is a great deal of money made by the shareholders to build a conventional lodge.
It is my plan to see if we can get a Sherbrooke style lodge built in Didsbury.
A foundation could be set up for such a venture.
Below is an article written by Suellen Beatty, CEO of the Sherbrooke Community Centre in Sasatoon, Saskatchewan about Sherbrooke.
The Sherbrooke community center is a special care home and affiliate of the Saskatoon district health, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Sherbrooke is a registered Eden Alternative home and as such strives to alleviate loneliness, boredom, and helplessness from the lives of its residents and community members.
The Sherbrooke mission is to create an environment that enables residents to live full and abundant lives. Our approach is resident directed as opposed to resident-centered. We strive to support intrinsically, normalcy and reality for the residents.
The village design and operation is quite unique in terms of the special care homes of today. The concept that 9 to 10 residents live together in houses, which are attached to the rest of the facility by an internal street; it is like having houses on any residential street with the exception that the street is internal and protected from the elements. The street is complete with street signs, skylights, house fronts and peaked roofs, front porches with benches, and mailboxes and numbers for each house.
The houses in the village are supportive of people with all kinds of frailities, disabilities, and requirements of care. The houses are easily adapted to meet the specialized needs of most groups from adults to children, a variety of cultures, and groups with special functional needs such as those who suffer from Alzheimer's disease.
Most of the 11 houses have at least one pet. There are dogs, cats, and rabbits and birds. This helps with the loneliness in addition creates spontaneity and variety, which addresses the boredom often experienced in these settings.
The animals are a drawing card for children, who then wish to visit or volunteer. The residents benefit greatly from the companionship and vitality of the children.
The Daily Living Assistant
The staffing of the houses in the village is based on the principle of normalcy. Staff is multi-skilled. Daily living assistants are qualified special care aides, and also completed a national housekeeping course, the food safe course, and medication administration course with practicum.
The staff is skilled in all areas in running the household from providing personal care to cooking meals, to maintaining an infection-free environment and being skilled at the odd game of cards. The registered nurses work in a model that enables one on one, care by not having to travel to see their clients.
The residents love this sharing of family. The environment lends itself to this kind of flexibility and intimacy. The alleviation of loneliness is supported.
The Eden Alternative is a powerful tool for improving the quality of life for people who live in long-term care facilities or are isolated in the community. It is a new way of thinking about eldercare and has the potential of remaking facilities and communities.
The smaller number of people, who have close and continuous contact, supports the development of intimate relationships, the antidote to loneliness.
The house environment also supports residents and their families being involved in the day to day chores and activities of life. Residents can assist with any small part of getting a meal on the table, or in the cleanup.
This is very beneficial to the cognitively impaired who might not make a substantial contribution and will also benefit from participation.
With a small environment in the number of residents and staff, decisions can be made quickly with lots of consultation with those affected.
Examples are the residents and families choosing their own china, deciding where pictures should be hung, where the couch works best, what foods to serve for dinner, whether or not they want a pet, and so on.
The opportunity for decision making at this level increases dramatically when one doesn't have to worry about other departments and groups of residents.
The Daily Living Assistant has the freedom to juggle her work depending on the needs of the resident. There are no department routines, barriers or competing agendas.
Creating the village environment has been a wonderful challenge and accomplishment. The pace of life in these houses is more relaxed and normal. Both residents and staff are having more fun than they did previously.
Staff is able to really make a difference for the residents and in their own work lives by expressing their individuality and sharing their gifts.
Residents and families are pleased with the physical environment and grateful for the caring and talented staff with whom they share their lives.
For more information about Sherbrooke please contact the author:
It should be noted that the Sherbrooke style senior care facility is the only one of four senior in Canada that is designed to meet the specific needs of people suffering from Alzheimer's disease, and as Alzheimer's is on the rise, it only makes sense to build Sherbrooke style senior complexes in the future.
Yet our government in their wisdom, or lack of, deny senior residents their basic human rights and needs, by continuing to allow conventional senior lodges and nursing homes to be built and maintained, with no thought as to the resident's needs.
For thousands of seniors, their most valued possession is their pets, and the only reason to live is to look after their pets. As a result, they very quickly lose the will to live in a conventional lodge or nursing home, because pets are not allowed in most senior facilities.
Below is a picture of Danny comforting my wife Shirley, shortly before she passed away at home, from Alzheimer's disease.
Above is a picture of Danny comforting Shirley as she sleeps, and Buddy standing guard over us. I expect the last thing my wife remembers is Danny and Buddy coming to see her.
Below is a rough draft of what a Sherbrooke style senior care facility might look like.
This unit would accommodate between 48 and 72 residents, with 4 to 6 residents per home. Each home would be a self-contained unit. This design has many advantages over a conventional senior care facility.
From a contagious illness control environment, it cannot be beaten.
Let us suppose that a person in one of the homes was to become ill. They would be moved to a hospital for treatment. The remaining residents and staff of the total complex would be tested for illness. Any that showed signs of illness would be quarantined, and treated, if necessary.
All the residents and any staff that had recently entered the home would be quarantined for 14 days and retested, and if found illness-free the residents of home would be allowed into the common complex area, and the staff members quarantined could also return to work.
As far as the residents with Alzheimer's were concerned they would see no change, which is exactly what is needed for residents suffering from Alzheimer's. In a conventional lodge, this is not possible.
By having relatives or friends living in the Didsbury district, who love helping residents with Alzheimer's visit the home, thus integrate the Alzheimers sufferers into the various activities within the complex.
By adding children and pets into the mix just adds to the integration.
The combination of 12 houses, a daycare centre, a thrift store,
a dollar store, a work & craft shop, a general store, a barbershop,
a beauty parlor, a grade 7 classroom, a swimming pool, a wading pool, a storage area, a small park, and a greenhouse makes for a total
self-contained complex, where everyone feels at home in a familiar small village environment, just like in the "Waltons" days that many remember so well.
All the items necessary to work in the work & craft shop would be available at very low cost at the thrift store, dollar store, and the general store.
There are many items thrown away at the local landfill that could be redirected to storage area of the complex for sorting and cleaning to supply the thrift store, with good quality merchandise at a fraction of the cost of buying these items new.
The day care centre and the grade 7 classroom children, combined with the dogs and cats, make a perfect atmosphere for the elderly residents of the complex.
Elderly residents who enjoy gardening would have a field day working in the greenhouse.
Although the added cost of installing a combination solar, geothermal energy system to heat, cool, and supply energy to the complex would be high, it might be well worth the added expense, because the cost of the energy would be nothing, the cost to maintain the system would be very low, and the negative impact on the environment would be zero.
It is my understanding that it costs no more to build and maintain such a complex than a conventional senior lodge, but in order to build such a complex requires the cooperation of the town, the chamber of commerce, the churches, the service clubs, volunteers, and grants from the provincial and federal governments.
I truly believe this is the model for the future in long term care for the elderly regardless of their mental and physical condition. They would look forward to the day, rather than sit and stare at the four walls waiting to die, which too often happens in conventional senior long term care facilities.
The residents of conventional senior lodges and nursing homes are dying by the thousands and will continue to do so, in my opinion. These facilities are a perfect breeding grounds for an epidemic and will always be one.
As long as senior care facilities are built and run to maximize shareholder profits at the expense of the resident's needs and wishes nothing will change.