SAINT ANDREWS – With the support of many different organizations, foundations, and government, Passamaquoddy Lodge expects to move forward with a facility to house a new model of nursing home. The current 60-bed nursing home at 230 Sophia Street is 50-years old and significantly outdated. Caroline Davies has been on the board of the lodge since 2016, and served as chair for four years. “There is not enough room to transfer people in and out of beds with a lift,” says Davies. The lodge is also home to a mixture of shared and private rooms, many with shared bathrooms, which can be detrimental in disease control.
The board has been researching a new type of facility since 2019, and determined a model in the United States, the Green House Project (GHP), ticks the boxes of disease resistance and providing the residents a home-like setting based on cozy units. In addition to housing 60 residents, the home would also be the location of a daycare, and a community hub for seniors’ services.
The proposal would be the first GHP pilot in New Brunswick, and possibly Canada. GHP is a not-for-profit organization which says it seeks to preserve the right to age with dignity by “destigmatizing aging and humanizing care for all people through the creation of radically non-institutional eldercare environments that empower the lives of people who live and work in them.” Importantly, the new Passamaquoddy Lodge would incorporate a “home-like environment,” Davies says. “Long institutional corridors would be gone.”
Rather than one large building, the emphasis would be on more houses, or cottages, with their own porches. The five cottages would each have 12 bedrooms and bathrooms, centered around an open concept living-dining-kitchen area. “The meal preparation would mostly be done in the main kitchen,” Davies explains, “but residents could help finish a meal in their kitchen.”
The advantages are numerous for residents, including an anticipated feeling of belonging. Another is infection control. “These have been awful years; for staff, for families,” says Davies. “I can’t imagine how staff survived the stress of not transmitting COVID.” In the new model, Davies explains, “If resident A in building one is ill, that household is locked down, but the other households can still live and go about their business. We have reduced transmission of infection.” Having a bedroom and bathroom for each resident will also assist with the goal of a healthy environment.
Davies says a reason for following the GHP model was the detail offered, including the “change of management aspect.” Davies is aware “people are resistant to change” and as staff’s roles are changed or “enhanced” it would be helpful to have some documentation for support to help people understand the goals and processes.
Multi-generational interaction was something that the Passamaquoddy Lodge board wanted to prioritize.
“We approached the daycare,” says Davies, “and asked ‘would you be interested in being co-located?’ They said they needed a new facility because their building was not even built as a daycare, but as a construction project.”
And partnership advantages don’t end there. “When you go after funding, it’s better to go once and ask, then several people to go one at a time,” says Davies. Additionally, Davies points out “If you don’t have the daycare, you can’t attract the people [to the town],” a feeling which has also been expressed at Saint Andrews town council.
The community hub is intended as a place to support seniors who are aging in place and to “integrate Passamaquoddy Lodge into the community,” Davies says. Although the details are to be filled in and an organizing body to be determined, the intention is to have a place where seniors from the community could come to knit, play cards, see a podiatrist or a hairdresser and socialize.
Davies explains when she was on the board that succeeded in having Saint Andrews certified as an Age Friendly Community, they “discovered things that need to be done to allow for better integration of seniors.
“You might want to have a community kitchen, and you might want to teach newly widowed people how to cook for one,” she says.
Although the plan is underway, the project remains in its infant stages.
“We’re getting a schematics design from an architectural firm in Saint John that will allow us to get an estimate,” Davies says. “Once we know what it will cost to build the design, we can go to the province and say, ‘let’s talk turkey’.”
In its current location, Passamaquoddy Lodge has a license from the province for the current 60-bed home, but would require approval to move residents to a new facility. The province also subsidizes nursing homes with a per diem per resident, which would have to be renegotiated.
At this point, Davies is thrilled the board has been approached by a number of foundations, “even though we haven’t begun fundraising yet.” A great deal of assistance has come from the Town of Saint Andrews itself, which Davies describes as “phenomenally supportive.
“We have first right of refusal until August 2022 on 12 acres [4.8 hectares] connected to Barr Rd. and Champlain.” Davies admits she is “impatient” and that the process is “taking longer” than she would like, but adds, “it’s going to happen for sure. We’ve got the right support in terms of the town, and MLA, and the MP has asked for numbers, so we are hopeful.” Davies expects to have a timeline for shovels in the ground quite soon.
As for the old lodge, Davies says, “We have people interested in buying it to turn to turn into affordable housing. The bones are good,” says Davies.