Dementia care is about to get more accessible for Bonnyville seniors and their families.
In response to an overwhelming need for the specialized care in the area, the Lakeland Lodge and Housing Foundation will be working with Alberta Health Services (AHS) to add dementia beds into phase three of the Bonny Lodge.
“We’re so short on dementia beds. You look in the lodge right now, we have three that are actually a husband and wife where one member of the family is in Extendicare and the other is in the lodge. It’s a little cumbersome when these people are 90-years-old and have to put on their coat and boots to go visit their loved one over at the next building,” said Ray Prevost, chair of the foundation.
Currently, there are around 10 beds in the Bonnyville Extendicare and about another 10 beds at Points West in Cold Lake. Included in the plans for phase three of the Bonny Lodge, is around 28 beds on the bottom floor for level four and level four ‘D’ (dementia) care.
“Level four is a higher level of care than a lodge. So, the bottom floor will consist of level four and four ‘D’. On the second storey will be the lodge beds, much like we have now, likely around 36 beds,” explained Prevost.
He added, “The reason there’s less beds in the bottom is because there’s different needs. It’ll have to have its own dining room, some central bathing areas. There’ll be a total of 110 lodge beds, plus 28 or so on the bottom floor. It’ll be a pretty big project.”
It won’t be until the provincial budget is released in the spring that the board will officially know whether or not phase three of the lodge is officially moving forward. The architect is close to finalizing designs for the project, so they’ll be ready to go once the announcement from the provincial government is made.
“I guess the big thing is we’re a little bit cautiously optimistic about the one in Bonnyville because that still has to get capital funding,” said Chris Vining, vice-chair of the board. “It’d be a new venture for the lodge board because it’d be working within a facility that both our lodge and Alberta Health would be housed in.”
Prevost on the other hand is confident that this project won’t be “falling off the rails”. While they don’t have the plans finalized yet, he estimates the build for phase three will cost roughly around $18-$18.5 million.
“We did talk to the assistant deputy minister, as far as he’s concerned it’s moving forward so I have to take him at his word. I think it’d be pretty hard for the government to turn back on this program, it’s been in construction for almost four years.”
In the process of trying to make Bonny Lodge a better place for seniors in the community, they have actually gotten into a worse position in terms of the number of beds. When it was started in 2011, there were 75 rooms for seniors. That number briefly jumped up to 85 rooms, but due to demolition of the two old wings the current lodge is down to just 66 rooms.
“It’s imperative it moves forward, the waiting list is still pretty high,” said Prevost, noting that there are over 65 people currently waiting for a room.
Once the project is given the green light for capital funding, the Lakeland Lodge and Housing Board will have to enter into contract discussions with AHS for the delivery of the dementia care. With a total of 110 lodge beds, plus the 28 level four and dementia beds, Prevost said planning will take a little longer than usual due to the extra needs of the bottom floor. Once demolition is factored in, it’s likely to be October or November before shovels are in the ground.
Praising the work and commitment of the board, both Prevost and Vining are elated to see that a much-needed project could finally be a reality.
“My parents stayed in those lodges – 110 square feet for two people, beds and about two chairs…every time I think of that, that’s what motivates me,” said Prevost.
Vining added, “With the aging population in our community we know it’s needed so we can keep our seniors in our communities and keep our families closer together. We’re hopeful.”