As a follow-up to the Jan. 24 article Villa Marie ready to become a home, I suggest that the Advocate do some investigative journalism and produce a comprehensive article on the availability and demand in Red Deer for housing for seniors who have need of supportive living and higher levels of care.
A common definition of supportive living is the provision of a room and meals, with no assistance for simple needs, such as dressing or bathing or even getting to the dining room. I hope that the article can verify or correct perceptions that I have of the present situation in Red Deer. Some of my perceptions are:
• There is a shortage of low-cost supportive living units and a surplus of high-cost units. The $1,785 per month cost for Villa Marie is not affordable for many low-income seniors. Piper Creek Foundation, which offers subsidized regular rooms to persons with yearly incomes below $28,160 for $1,195 per month, has a long waiting list. Symphony Aspen Ridge, Symphony Inglewood, Victoria Park, Collegeside Gardens and perhaps other facilities have signs outside their buildings advertising for tenants. Points West Living is presently building a 60-unit supportive living facility on Taylor Drive near 67th Street with government assistance, and I believe that there is another similar facility that was also announced during Seniors Week in 2013.
• There is a critical shortage of higher level care for dementia and other needs. The 24 units in Villa Marie will do a bit to reduce the shortage, but not nearly enough. Presently, there are many seniors in the hospital waiting for placement in care facilities, and many others who have had to accept placement in a facility out of town due to the shortage in Red Deer. The number of people in these situations is unknown due to Alberta Health Services’ refusal to release information that might be embarrassing. According to your article, 500 people applied for 76 supportive living and 24 dementia rooms in Villa Marie, so the number with unmet needs must be high.
• In a point-in-time homeless count done on Oct. 16, 2012, a total of 279 persons were found to be homeless. A serious deficiency in this count was that it did not include seniors waiting for supportive living or higher levels of care, or seniors who had to move out of town to get the care they needed. If these seniors had been included, the number would likely have doubled or tripled.
I hope that the Advocate will publish some accurate information on the state of senior housing in Red Deer that will identify good and bad decisions made in the past and provide guidance for the future.