A group that runs the nonprofit Passamaquoddy Lodge in Saint Andrews is seeking provincial approval to build a new type of nursing home that is less institutional.
The Green House model is made up of relatively small units that look more like houses than hospital wings, according to Caroline Davies, chair of the board of directors of Passamaquoddy Lodge.
Passamaquoddy Lodge is 50, Davies said, and doesn’t have enough room for mobility aids such as walkers, wheelchairs and elevators in patient rooms.
The board would like to build a replacement 60-bed facility, she said, divided into five houses of 12 beds each.
Davies said his group spent a year studying how Project Green House nursing homes work in the United States, where some have been operating for 17 years.
The mission of the non-profit group is “to humanize care by creating radically non-institutional elderly care environments”.
Evidence indicates that they provide a better quality of life, she said.
Residents have their own open concept living, dining and kitchen areas, Davies said.
They wake up and have breakfast whenever they want.
And each has its own bathroom.
“The pandemic, at the very least, has shown us that we shouldn’t be sharing homes,” Davies said. “We shouldn’t share bathrooms.”
Everyone in a house requires the same level of care, up to and including level 3.
There are a few dedicated workers in each house during the day, and additional dietary staff in a main kitchen.
Residents help cook to the best of their ability.
The concept of Green House is well known, according to gerontologist Janice Keefe.
“People recognize that small neighborhoods are the way to go,” Keefe said.
“One of the biggest takeaways is that they’re more like home,” she said.
“It won’t replace a person’s home,” Keefe said, but with smaller groups there can be better relationships between residents and between residents and staff.
New nursing homes built in Nova Scotia have taken this approach since 2008, she said.
Keefe is President of Family Studies and Gerontology at Mount Saint Vincent University and Director of the Nova Scotia Center on Aging. She is also involved in the development of national standards for nursing homes.
During the pandemic, she said, Green House type homes had an easier time controlling infections and fewer restrictions were needed on visitation.
Canada has been one of the worst countries in the world in terms of the number of COVID deaths in nursing homes, Keefe said.
Many nursing homes across the country were built in the 1960s and 1970s under federal programs, and they fall short of modern needs, she said.
Keefe said that when she started working in 1986, nursing homes had many residents who were still relatively independent.
This has evolved over the past decades, she said, to accommodate an increased number of people in need of level 3 care.
The average age of a nursing home resident is now in the late 1980s, she said, and their needs are much more intense.
But a “cultural shift” is occurring in long-term care, she said, away from heroic interventions and increased medical treatment and towards a quality of life and a warm environment.
The Saint Andrews group would like to integrate a center into their new nursing home that could house services that fit into a wallless nursing home program, she said, such as foot care, cooking lessons and shared meals.
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They also proposed including a daycare in their project.
There’s one in town looking for a new space, Davies said, and the nursing home residents and children could both benefit from each other’s company.
Passamaquoddy Lodge is not seeking provincial funding for construction, Davies said, but needs the province to agree to transfer the nursing home’s license and agree to negotiate new per diems on the road – like the Shannex arrangement at.
Per diems are based on square footage, so they will need to be higher, she said, in order to meet modern standards.
The city has allocated 12 hectares for the project.
The land was set aside for a year in hopes that a deal could be made, Mayor Brad Henderson said, and the council would likely sell it to the nonprofit group for $ 1.
The council supports the project, he said, because housing is his top priority.
The city wants to be “old-fashioned,” and the old nursing home could potentially be converted into “dormitory-style” housing for young workers, he said.
Some charitable foundations have pledged their support, Davies said.
If the lodge gets the green light from the government, an architect is ready to start the designs, she said, and they could have shovels in the ground by 2023.
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When asked about the status of the project, the Department of Social Development said the government continues to look for “innovative ways” to provide services to seniors.
“We want people to have access to the services and supports they need when the time is right. “
When asked if the province has received any other proposals for new nursing homes, a spokesperson for the ministry responded that several new nursing homes will be announced in the coming months, as part of the program. a multi-year plan drawn up in 2018.