The Lacombe Foundation recently held a public consultation to gauge the future needs for seniors housing in Lacombe County, with around 60 residents attending.
Currently, the two main priorities for the Foundation are the replacements of both the Lacombe Seniors Lodge and Parkview Manor. The needs assessment, which is based off public consultations and a online survey, is being done in order for the projects to be shovel-ready in case they receive approval from the Government of Alberta.
“We have continually asked for the same thing. Our first priority is the Parkview Manor and the Lacombe Seniors Lodge. The Lacombe Foundation is made up of a representative from each of the municipalities within Lacombe County. With that, we have decided we need to replace that Lodge and that Manor especially,” Eckille Mayor and Lacombe Foundation Chair Helen Posti said.
Currently, there are 97 available units at the Lacombe Seniors Lodge with five current vacancies and 36 people on the wait list. The current vacancies are a result of units not having windows.
“The odd time, a person will go into one of those units just so they can get moved to another room. It is still up to fire code because of the door and we put the sprinkler system into all of the remaining parts of the Lodge that didn’t have them,” Posti said.
A new Lodge and Manor would, hopefully, increase the units in both facilities allowing for the extended wait list to be accommodated. The new facilities would also, in theory, allow for more room and accommodate the needs and wants addressed through this public consultation period.
“That is what these community engagement meetings and the statistics will tell us. It will tell us how many wait lists there are in the area and we are asking people about every type of seniors housing they would be wanting,” she said.
Posti said many people at the public consultation had questions about the life-lease model of seniors housing, but the majority of concerns were around affordable rent.
“A lot of them talked about the cost in the private sector, where it can be so prohibitive that even those people who have full pensions can’t afford these places,” Posti said.
The Lacombe Foundation is hoping to finally receive a positive response from the Government after many failed attempts to get these projects going.
“This isn’t our first ask and we even had the Minister out to tour over a year ago,” Posti said. “We keep hoping we are the list and will get something. I am glad to hear about Piper Creek Lodge (Just announced in Red Deer), but we certainly would like to see it come for us.”
Posti said the needs assessment will also be relevant and valuable even if a new Provincial government is elected in the coming months
“If you have all the information, at least they can’t take it away from you and it will still be new enough even if the government changes,” she said.
Posti did say, however, that it important for voters to ensure their politicians are aware of the challenges that seniors housing is currently embroiled in.
“Ask them about what they know about seniors housing. A lot of them have trouble understanding it and there is so much confusion around long-term care and what Alberta Health provides,” she said.
The Lacombe Foundation will provide details in the coming weeks regarding a second public meeting on May 2nd.
“We are getting younger people on the survey and we would like to get them out at the meeting. After the next meeting, we will discuss the needs based on our public consultation,” she said.