After nearly 20 years of planning, Radiant Care Pleasant Manor will officially be able to move forward on constructing a new 160-bed long-term care facility in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
The green light came Thursday when Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Dr. Helena Jaczek visited Pleasant Manor to announce 81 additional bed licences for the non-profit organization.
Tim Siemens, chief executive officer of Radiant Care, said the expansion will see 41 residents of Pleasant Manor’s current long-term care facility moved to the new building upon construction, opening up a total of 119 new beds.
He said the multi-storey facility will be “state-of-the-art” with an emphasis on dementia and palliative care, and will include a community hub; space for fitness and wellness; fall prevention services; and social gathering areas.
The building will be constructed on 4.6 acres of green space, and will connect to the current long-term care facility when finished.
At that time the current facility will be retrofitted to increase capacity for other assisted living services, Siemens said.
Altogether the redevelopment will cost $35 million, with more than $20 million of that being funded by the provincial government. The rest will be covered by Radiant Care.
Currently, there are round 950 on the waiting list for Pleasant Manor, with around 120 to 150 people waiting for long-term care specifically.
The new facility will be able to accomodate most of those people needing long-term care.
Siemens said shovels are expected to hit the ground in about a year, though there are lots of moving parts that still need to fall into place.
Further to expanding long-term care, the new facility will also act as a catalyst for applied training to students from local academic institutions and be a hub for palliative research through a partnership with Brock, MacMaster and MacGill Univserities.
“People are coming to our homes, and they’re dying in our homes.”
“Our relationship with Brock University, Mac and McGill with this long-term care palliative care study is to begin that process of learning more about how we can specialize in providing the best end-of-life care that we can to people who are actively dying.”
He said researching ways to enhance senior care is particularly important for a region that boasts the highest percentages of seniors in the country.
Seniors are the fastest growing population in Niagara-on-the-Lake, with 26.9 per cent of the population being 65 or older.
The Ontario average 16.4 per cent, to put that into perspective.
Further to that, in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 50 per cent of residents are older than 50.
“It’s kind of a bit of a harbinger of the future,” Siemens said.
“If 50 per cent of your population is 50 years or older, with every passing year that really impacts the percentage of people 65 and older.”
He said in Ontario, between 25,000 and 30,000 people waiting for long-term care, and noted that figure is expected to climb to around 48,000 in the next five years.
The opportunity for research and development at Radiant Care is somewhat unique because the organization offers multiple forms of assisted living, Siemens said
“We’re different from other long-term care homes in the sense that we don’t have just a standalone long-term care home. It’s a continuum of care campus, so we have independent living, semi-independent living and long-term care.”
Radiant Care currently serves more than 600 seniors and employs 361 people between its two locations — in Niagara-on-the-Lake (Pleasant Manor) and St. Catharines (Tabor Manor). The new development will create another 120 jobs, said Siemens.
The home will be bright and warm with spacious accommodation, comfortable amenities, all built to meet the latest LEED Silver standards that respect the environment and reduce the home’s carbon footprint.
Gertrude Klassen, a resident at Pleasant Manner, said she’s looking forward to the extra space in her room to welcome her family.
Radiant Care Pleasant Manor is located at 15 Elden St. in Virgil.