Chartwell Montgomery Village residence ‘not a nursing home’

January 31, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

“We really want everyone to know this is not a nursing home,” Chartwell Montgomery Village spokesman Adam Gray emphasized. “There is no memory floor. Everyone is sound of mind. A lot of seniors have the impression that senior residences are nursing homes.”

Asked about other places in which seniors live, where some in deep dementia are lined up in their wheelchairs in a hall way, waiting to be fed a lunch with little or no nutrition, he replied:

“When they come into our community, it keeps them from going into that community.”

Chartwell Retirement Residence is the largest participant in the Canadian seniors housing sector, holding nearly 200 locations across Canada. 

The Orangeville facility on Riddell Road was built by Vision Retirement Group Inc. and opened in 2013. Chartwell took it over in September 2015. It was initially called the Montgomery Village Seniors Community.

Chartwell’s corporate approach is to offer comfortable suites, common rooms, health care and facilities so pleasant that the lives of their residents are full, interesting and healthy. This is achieved by a combination of nutritious food made in onsite kitchens, provision of regular health care, excellent social experiences and an atmosphere of respect and cheerfulness.

Mr. Gray, the residence’s marketing manager, was our guide around the facility to demonstrate the Chartwell methods.

“We’re here to make their lives better,” he explained. “Not because they have to take away all the things that are frustrating like cooking, cleaning, maintaining a house. They are fully independent. Many don’t want to drive anymore because it’s too stressful or they have lost their license and, then, they’re not being social, not getting out of their homes.”

He warned, “Isolation and poor diets are the two main causes of dementia. They have to understand and get away from that, breaking that image of a nursing home.”

He escorted us into the main lobby area en route to the dining area, attractive dining furniture of wooden tables and chairs, the day’s menu cards on the tables, ready for inspection. There was a choice for lunch: soup, made “from scratch” in the kitchen.

“Prospectives go home with a Mason jar of soup when they come to visit and have lunch here.”

Salad, then, on that day, a hot turkey open-face sandwich or other cold sandwiches, fruit or sweet followed on the menu. Breakfast had been cereal, eggs, toast – coffee and more. 

Dinner was on par, with meat and vegetables, something to start, something to finish, all made with skill and love. The meals are brought to the tables by serving staff.

Chef Angelo was on deck and invited us into the kitchen, a full, commercial affair. Staff were stationed behind the serving shelf, placing plates under the lamps to keep them warm and ready to be delivered. I asked the manager how she knew how many plates to set out before the residents had even come to read the menus.

“I’ve been here so long, I know most of them by name and what they’re most likely to order,” she told us. “We’re like friends to all our residents.” 

With a view to giving the residents a say about the menus, Mr. Gray commented, “we have monthly meeting with the residents, discussing menus to deal with issues, going forward.”  

Mr. Gray took us to one of the upper floors where the suites are located. He opened the door to a comfortable set of rooms, the one-bedroom suite of sitting room, bedroom, bath and a small kitchenette, where one might make coffee or snacks, basically, in the presumption that the homemade meals will usually be taken, down in the dining room. If a person prefers to have a meal in their room, a staff member will bring it to the suite.

Nothing is cheaply done, no shortcuts in the finishing of these premises have been taken. The tiles on the walls are actually tiles, the carpet is good quality and the furniture in the rooms is whatever the new resident brings along.

“We encourage residents to bring their own things,” said Mr. Gray, “so that it feels like home to them. … Everything is included: telephone, TV, all the maintenance, including lightbulbs – and we change them. We don’t want people climbing ladders to do it.

He talked to us about the outings they take for people that want to go someplace else for a meal, the theatre or to shop: “Our bus holds about 16 people and it’s usually full for any of our outings. We go to family-style restaurants. People notice us – these are not disabled seniors – they’re spry and independent.”

Behind the next door he opened was an elegant private dining room, which can be used for any occasion but, especially, is used by the residents for housewarming parties when a new resident arrives.

“We serve them a nice meal, free of charge, so everyone can see how well they’ll be living in their new home.”

On the lower level of the building are  amenities for fun, games (pool, cards, shuffle board, golf), arts, painting, crafts with a steady flow of supplies, a spa. …

On the practical side, considering that residents are in their 80’s and older, there is a health office with a full-time nurse and her associate. First and foremost, they take over the administration of prescription drugs, meaning that now each person gets the right medication, on time and every day. 

Everyone has a six-months’ assessment of their overall health, physically and mentally. A check-up on their wellbeing, meaning there is a greater chance of catching notice of a decline and dealing with it right away.

“We have four programs,” Mr. Gray told us. “A gentle exercise class, dealing with the physical and spiritual; one of our staff does an Art Talk; we hold fall prevention classes- two sets of them; and Christmas baking – the ladies miss baking at Christmas,” he added, “So, we do it down here,” which was a lovely other kitchen, plenty of counter space and good ovens. “Angelo does demos – he was making sushi recently.”In the movie room, there are movies, television and seminars.

“We have lots of events here where we invite the public to come. We want the public to come and see the place, take part in the things we do here. 

“On Valentine’s Day,” he said, “we’re inviting people to bring their pets for a photo shoot of them with their pet in front of the Eiffel Tower – we do it with a green screen- and they get four cupcakes, some with the dog in mind. Part of the proceeds goes to the Legion in Orangeville. There are other events during the year. We’ll be doing the Grand Pals program again this year too.”

As to the pet photography?

“Yes, pets are allowed to live here,” Mr. Gray affirmed. “They can be a very important part of a senior’s life.”

To find out more about the Chartwell Montgomery Village Retirement Residence, you can google it or call them at 226-706-8527.

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