Council hears update on proposed seniors campus after pause in communications

April 20, 2023   ·   0 Comments


Orangeville’s deputy mayor scolded a long-term care provider for its silence about a proposed development during the coronavirus lockdown.

Matthew Melchior, the president of Primacare Living Solutions Inc., spoke to Orangeville council on Apr. 17 about Headwaters Seniors Campus at the town-owned Humberlands.

It was first proposed in March 2020 when council’s support was sought for an application to the provincial government to allow the endeavour.

Primacare has been awarded a license for 192 long-term care beds at Headwaters Seniors Village to serve Orangeville and Dufferin County.

Plans were moving along for the $80-million development until the COVID-19 coronavirus and subsequent lockdowns came about.

“COVID was very hard for everybody, but specifically and particularly difficult for the long-term care sector,” Melchior said. “All the participants in the long-term care sector, including Primacare, pretty much parked any development plan that they were working on.”

The focus was completely directed toward caring for seniors, he said.

The pandemic wrought a host of problems in its wake. Supply chain bottlenecks, inflation, and higher construction costs. So the provincial Ministry of Long-Term Care committed to redeveloping the service.

The crowd at Queen’s Park has committed to strengthening the health care sector workforce and increasing the care hours per resident of a long-term care facility.

“The opportunity here is to revisit a fully integrated intergenerational forward-looking seniors campus,” he said.

The 192 beds would anchor the campus. And it would be complemented by a “living classroom” that would allow health science students to gain practical experience.

Primacare adheres to the Butterfly emotion-based care model. That means a shift from the checklist style of care.

“It is a model designed to elicit positive feelings and meaningful engagement,” Melchior said. “It is marked by staff engaging and interacting with residents to create homelike environments.”

He said the seniors campus will align with Orangeville’s priorities for an age-friendly community. The model reduces social isolation; champions inclusivity of the senior population; engages local community groups to strengthen accessibility; builds age-friendly awareness; promotes outside groups to visit.

“The most important part here is that we will respect seniors and seek relevance and participation in our endeavours,” he said.

Deputy Mayor Todd Taylor said that while Orangeville is open for business, there is a hitch: The availability of land.

“I would call our community open for business,” Taylor said. “Orangeville is wanting to invest in businesses. We want businesses to come here. We want to expand our community and offer things to the people that is needed.

“And what you’re describing is needed. We don’t have a lot of land here.”

As such, Taylor said council has to make some tough decisions.

He acknowledged COVID-19 was difficult for a lot of people and certainly would have weighed heavily on Primacare’s sector. But Orangeville staff reached out to the company numerous times, he said.

“We didn’t hear anything from you,” he said. “Not a response to an email. Nothing. So now you’re back … but it doesn’t give me great confidence in a relationship. A relationship is a two-way street.”

Melchior said communicating with anyone during the height of the coronavirus was beyond the primary priority of caring for residents at their facilities. He apologized for the company’s silence, having been perceived as a slight to the town.

“We were under siege,” he said. “It was a war, and the battle scars of that war are still being felt.

“I can say that communication could have been better. I will happily put my hand up and fall on that sword. But my responsibility is to my residents first and foremost.”

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