Exploring range of seniors housing at Manor a great idea

The consultant’s report on recommended expansions of the Manitoulin Centennial Manor, released last week to the Northeast Council (as the sponsor of the study), is welcome news.

The consultant recommends that, using the existing long-term care nursing home as a base, the facility could be expanded in order to offer a diversity of levels of accommodation and care for seniors whose needs could be matched by one of potentially several levels of care at a Manor re-defined by an expanded range of services.

It is a happy coincidence that the consultant’s report mirrors to a great extent one of the significant recommendations made late last month at the Manitoulin consultation meeting of the Northeast Ontario Local Health Integration Network (LHIN).

Manitoulin Island, it was pointed out at the LHIN meeting, is one of the areas in Northern Ontario with the fastest growing population of aging baby boomers and seniors and so their long-term housing and health-care needs must be anticipated and planned for.

This study is a first-rate beginning and it is much to the credit of the Northeast Town that they initiated the process, with input from the Community Development Corporation, and paid for the study, with the blessing of the other Manitoulin municipalities that collectively own the Manor and from whose appointees the Manor board is largely comprised.

Nearby Espanola is a useful model where good planning was in place 25 years ago when a new hospital was built. The decision then was to combine the hospital with a nursing home (Espanola’s first such facility, which has since doubled in size) which shares a common kitchen with the hospital, as does an attached wing able to house about 18 people who do not require either hospitalization or long-term care but whose needs lie somewhere in between, in the ‘assisted living’ category.

Additionally, a seniors’ apartment complex is also located on the same extended property, as is the Family Health Team’s local medical clinic.

Espanola had the opportunity to be starting from scratch, but the wisdom of choices made in the planning stages is enduring.

In the case of the Manitoulin Centennial Manor, the basic unit, very recently upgraded, is in place and is located on one of Manitoulin’s most desirable ‘view’ properties.

There is a need (or will be soon) for incrementally more specialized housing for seniors. This is a dandy location that will have the ability to share services with an existing facility and there is (as evidenced by the fact that the Northeast Town sponsored the consultant’s study) political will at the local level together with a recognition by the LHIN that these services are needed on Manitoulin.

This would seem to be a perfect storm in favour of giving such a project (which will be a fairly large one) the necessary momentum.