For many seniors, moving out of a house and into an assisted-living facility is a big change — and not necessarily a good one.
They’re often required to settle into a boxey room, separated from their spouse and no longer able to prepare their own meals.
“This is quite a paradigm shift for a couple coming out of a house or a conventional condo where they cook and care for themselves,” observed Greg Christenson, president of the Christenson Group of Edmonton.
He thinks a better option exists in the form of Royal Oak Village, a new 88-suite assisted-living complex in Lacombe. Developed by Christenson Developments, the construction arm of the Christenson Group, it offers features like full kitchens, balconies and the opportunity to connect with adjacent units to transform a studio into a one-bedroom or even a two-bedroom suite.
“These units have been designed, all to accommodate assisted-living care in the form of a conventional studio,” said Christenson.
“We’re promoting the fact that couples can live together.”
Work on the four-storey building is expected to wrap up this week.
“Starting this weekend people will be able to view, and then going forward, for actual occupancy, it will be mid-February,” said Christenson.
Royal Oak Village is actually Phase 2 of a larger project, with the 73-unit Royal Oak Manor built in 2002. The two buildings are linked on each floor, allowing residents of the new complex to access existing amenities like social areas, a carpentry shop, a hair salon and computer facilities.
There will be one dining room in Royal Oak Village and two in Royal Oak Manor.
The 23 assisted-living units on the main floor of Royal Oak Manor will now be used by residents requiring higher levels of dementia care, while the other 50 units are designated as independent living suites. They look much like condominium units, said Christenson, with more than one bedroom and bathroom available, as well as balconies.
Both buildings are managed by Christenson Communities.
Christenson said the decision to build Royal Oak Village was motivated in part by the need for more assisted-living units for the complex to be financially sustainable. The province pledged $8.4 million toward the $17-million project, with this contribution part of the $105 million it committed in 2010 toward the development of more than 1,000 new or renovated continuing-care beds in Alberta.
All placements of continuing-care residents into the facility is done by Alberta Health Services. In the case of the independent-living suites, residents contract directly with Christenson Communities — either leasing on a monthly basis or entering into a life-lease contract for their units.
Christenson said a third phase is already in the planning stages. It will consists of a nearby building with 64, two-bedroom units that will be rented like regular apartments.
“The idea is that you build it for a younger constituency — it can be workers, it can be people coming into the province to work.”
But the building will include features like raised toilets, wide doorways and bathroom doors that swing outward, so that the units can be converted for use by seniors when required in the future.
“We’d like to start (Phase 3) late in 2013,” said Christenson.
A fourth phase is also contemplated, but would not be undertaken until well into the future, he said.
“We have no detailed plans for that at this time.”