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General · 17th October 2013
Maureen McDowell
On October 2, some members of Quadra Circle's Housing Committee (Luise Grav, Maureen McDowell, Mary McIntosh, Rob McKerracher, Dirk Van Der Minne and Carol Woolsey) visited St. John the Divine Abbeyfield House, 994 8th Street in Courtenay. Our aim was to learn more about the operation of seniors housing models which might work on Quadra.

Operating Structure: Abbeyfield is a not-for-profit Society with a volunteer Board, affiliated with St. John the Divine Church for financial back-up, but is non-denominational and self-sufficient. Creating an atmosphere of mutual caring, respect and “purposeful living” for senior residents is part of the mandate - to build a sense of 'family'. It was started by local seniors who fundraised and applied to Abbeyfield Canada (see for seed money and guidance on governance, building management and fundraising. The Society obtained a mortgage from the local credit union, bought an old office building site, designed the facility with seniors in-put and an architect's help. The Abbeyfield Board sets fees to cover operating and contingency costs. The Board is hands-on to help with minor maintenance and painting rooms but hire professionals for plumbing, etc.

Suites: Abbeyfield in Courtenay is 17 years old, with10 suites all with external and internal entrances on the ground floor. Each unit's exit door has a small patio, for private and emergency access. Suites are bed-sitting room style, approx. 300sq.ft., with toilet, sink and shower. Two suites are wheel-chair access so have 2-piece bathroom and use of the Bath/shower Room where assistance is provided. Suites are furnished by tenants, who do their own cleaning. Rooms have call buttons to Staff and medical alert. Small pets are permitted on a situation-by-situation basis.

A sheltered walkway with small trees, shrubs and plants which attract birds surrounds the building so tenants can walk safely and not get lost; it also features a shared patio with tables and chairs. Abbey-field is in a flat, residential area across from Kiwanis seniors housing, on a bus route to downtown and near walking and scooter paths; some residents drive.

Lay-out: In the central Livingroom off the main entrance and Main hall residents can chat and read when they want company; it has plants and 2 aquariums. Tenants suites open into the Main hall, which runs the length of building and provides easy access to all the shared facilities: Entertainment room, Laundry room, Dining room, Kitchen, Office, Bath/Shower room (plus a wheel-chair access toilet at each end.of the Hall). The Second floor has a shared tenant storage room, a suite for overnight staff and a bed-sitting room for family visitors. A Stair-lift was installed later through fundraising.

Costs: Residents are 55+ (oldest is 94) and must have a family member or legal representative who is empowered to make medical decisions for the person if needed. Suites rent for $1650/ month and include 3 meals/day, snacks, utilities, internet and cable TV. Residents have their own phones. Family and guests meals and the Family suite rent are at nominal cost. The BC SAFER rental allowance covers part of the $1650 cost. The Abbeyfield Board can provide a subsidy for tenants who can't afford the full cost; others are assisted by Veterans Affairs or family.

Staff: Key to the operation is good, longterm staff, who “go beyond “ to ensure residents feel cared about secure and 'at home'. Lunch and Dinner are prepared daily by Manager/Cook who arrives in the morning to help those who need minor assistance to dress; she makes lunch and dinner, assists people during the day as needed, arranges activities. Cleaning of common area is done by a cleaning service. The Night staff person has free room and board upstairs and is paid for night call-outs. A Weekend cook relieves the Manager and has been there since the start (17 years). Problems between tenants or staff and tenants are dealt with promptly by staff or a conflict resolution professional ' from outside'.

Ageing-in-place: Although the Abbeyfield model was intended for independent living, this Society has adjusted to accommodate tenants with declining health. (This makes it a very interesting possibility for our needs on Quadra). Many residents have VIHA Home Support workers who assist them daily. Hospice support was arranged for a dying resident who wanted to stay in ther Abbeyfield suite, surrounded by friends and family there. The Board expanded their mandate to allow a family member to stay in the upper suite and provide care during their parent's final days, with assistance from a Palliative Care nurse.

Advice to Q Circle: The Abbeyfield Board suggested that we plan now for expansion later. The demand has exceeded the number of suites and they have no accommodation for couples. Plan ahead also for palliative care and respite care to allow for ageing-in-place. Quadra Circle's Housing Committee is now reviewing several housing models and will soon be engaging us as a community in the process of creating housing to meet our seniors' range of needs. For more information, call Mary: (250) 285-3084.

Quadra Home Meals
The Quadra Home Meals program provides weekly meal orders to Island seniors or care-givers unable to cook regularly and to anyone dealing with illness or recovering from surgery. These tasty, nutritious meals are cooked specially for the program by the Gowlland Harbour Resort Chef. The cost is a nominal $5 per meal. Choices range from soup/stew with bun, to a small entree to a full meal with fish or meat, vegetables and a starch. Food preferences, allergies and special diets can be accommodated. Meals can be reheated or frozen for later use. You can pick them up at the Community Centre on Wednesdays between 11:30am and 12 noon. If needed, the meals can be delivered by our volunteers. To order by Sunday noon call Marie:285-3950, Lynda:285-3205 or Karen: 285-3064.

Friday Lunch: Last week 33 seniors of all ages attended Friday Lunch. Please join us Fridays at 11am for armchair exercises with Ann Lawrence or at noon to 1pm for lunch and a speaker in the Lower Level at 1181 West Road (Quadra Bible Church). You'll receive a warm welcome! We have a variety of activities and volunteer options too, if you are interested. For more information contact Karen at 285-3064 or Mary at 285-3084.
Great plan
Comment by Debbie on 18th October 2013
Sounds like a great residence for our Quadra Island Community.
Thanks to the circle for checking it out!!