by Robin Burridge
“Last year a steering committee, the Manitoulin Centennial Manor Business Plan Working Group, was formed including then-Northeast Town mayor Jim Stringer, Manor board chair Les Fields, reps from the manor board and a provincial appointee,” explained Deputy Mayor Al MacNevin who is also acting for Mayor Chapman on the Manor Board due to time conflicts.
Councillor MacNevin said that the group wanted to look at the future of the Manor and consider how it could expand its capacity to provide a wider range of care for seniors.
“The committee determined it would be advisable to look at the existing Manor to determine if there’s the potential to expand the facility to drive efficiencies through that process,” town CAO Dave Williamson told The Expositor last year.
The group was having problems finding funding for the study, so the Northeast Town decided to fund the project itself. The total cost was $20,000, with $14,000 coming from the town and $6,000 coming from the Community Development Corporation (CDC). SHS Consulting and C.J. Stewart Consulting Services were commissioned to complete the comprehensive study and outline ways to develop the Manor while closing the gap on the public shortage of seniors’ housing.
“As a community we could see a demand and, thankfully, the report supports it,” said Deputy Mayor MacNevin.”
The final result of the study completed by the consulting firms is a 37 page document that outlines how changes could be made to the Manor by adding a 4,400 square metre addition onto each existing floors that would contain up to 34 one and two bedroom apartment units and 20 assisted living units.
The study comes at a time when the community has publicly expressed great concern over the future and wellbeing of the Island’s aging population at events such as the recent community engagement meeting held by the Northeast Local Health Integration Network (NE LHIN) and the Northeast Town’s public meeting concerning the town’s sustainability plan.
At the NE LHIN community engagement meeting it was determined that 26 percent of the population on the Island is presently over the age of 65. Manor board member Ed Bond stated that the funding dollars were not available for those who need the greatest assistance because too many residents are at level one (on a scale of 1-4 in relation to requiring assistive care).
“The cost of a bed for long term care is $120 a day, compared to only $41 a day to provide services at home,” said Deputy Mayor MacNevin.
According to the final Manor report, Just over 90 percent of persons 65 years and older live in single-detached dwellings, but as the population continues to age, the physical and financial ability of individuals to maintain their homes and complete their daily tasks diminishes and there are presently no supportive housing units for senior on Manitoulin. The exception is the privately run TLC Home for seniors in Little Current where assisted living is provided in a group environment. By expanding the Manor and providing supportive homes for the aging population, financial savings can be reached, better and more specific care can be given, and the future sustainability of the Manor can be ensured.
The Northeast Town council was impressed by the report and has officially announced its support of the project moving forward. Council will discuss the document further at its next meeting on August 2, while other Manor Board members will bring the report to their respective municipalities throughout the weeks to come.
The Manitoulin Centennial Manor Board will hold a special meeting on August 9 to discuss the report and determine if it will move forward with the outlined plan.
“The property, service, and interest is there,” added Deputy Mayor McNevin. “Hopefully, the other board members see the great potential this could have for our seniors, our community and our Island.”