Golden Dawn Redevelopment Update

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Submitted by Golden Dawn Redevelopment Chair, Dr. Trace MacKay

Golden Dawn’s history and vision 

The Golden Dawn has a long-standing mission to provide senior care and affordable housing for seniors and others needing residential care on the Northern Bruce Peninsula (NBP), regardless of means. Founded in the late 1960’s by Rev. Sherman and Geneva Myles as a ministry of the Country Church, this mission still rings true as we’ve stepped back to reassess realities and make plans to meet the needs of more people in our community. 

Golden Dawn has a strong reputation as a leading care provider, seniors housing provider, and year-round employer on the Peninsula. We plan to uphold this reputation and strengthen what we can offer to the wider community as we move forward. 

Challenges we aim to address 

Long-term care (LTC) in Ontario means having access to 24-hour nursing and personal care in an institutional setting; residents must meet certain eligibility criteria to live in a LTC home.(1) All homes are different, but must adhere to ministry regulations and standards. The costs of LTC are shared between the Ministry of Long Term Care (MoLTC) and the resident, and are standardized by the MoLTC. 

(1) https://www.ontario.ca/page/about-long-term-care 

There are well documented challenges in the LTC sector, including chronic underfunding, severe staff shortages, outdated infrastructure, and poor oversight.(2) In our community, we see the effects of these ongoing provincial challenges through insufficient funding for our nonprofit home and supports such as home care, long waitlists, demanding work for low wages of our staff, and the lack of affordable housing and transportation for workers and those needing care. It is also important to note that local community members do not get priority in their local LTC home, and are placed on regional waitlists like anyone else in the province.

(2) http://www.ltccommission-commissionsld.ca/ 

Since the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on LTC homes in Ontario, the Ministry of Long-Term Care has committed to increasing the number of LTC beds across the province, but without serious considerations on how to address the root challenges of LTC. 

Additionally, the LTC model and regulations do not recognize the realities and needs of small, rural communities. Instead, they focus on supporting larger facilities (120+ beds), without addressing housing and other supports for staff and caregivers. Golden Dawn presently has 45 LTC bed licenses, and there is a shortage of affordable housing in the community for our staff. With an impending 2025 deadline to upgrade our infrastructure to class A standards, Golden Dawn may not be able to meet those requirements under the current funding model, facility, and staffing. 

To address these deep and persistent challenges, we are exploring a community care model for redevelopment that focuses on providing MORE supportive housing options for seniors and their caregivers, and coordinates health and care support services in partnership with existing care providers. We have a vision for a main street community care hub that brings health and care services to the core of our village, serves residents in their homes if they wish, provides more options for people through their life transitions, and better supports a caregiving workforce. 

What we’ve accomplished 

Golden Dawn has opted to pursue a community-led redevelopment planning process, so together, we can mutually learn and collaborate on solutions for those who live on the NBP. We have completed four key redevelopment planning activities to date, which include: 

Stakeholders who were consulted in Spring 2021 include Golden Dawn management, staff, Residents’ Council, and Family Council; potential partners; advocates and influencers; all levels of government; and experts in the field. Golden Dawn will continue to engage with these stakeholders throughout redevelopment planning. 

The results of our community survey are a representative sample size of the total population on the Northern Bruce Peninsula. As the charts below show, most of the survey participants reside in the larger Lion’s Head postal code area, are permanent and year-round residents, are between the ages of 60-79, and own their place of residence. 

What we’ve learned 

The NBP has a population demographic and anticipated behaviour that is poised to have a significant impact on care needs in the very near future. As difficult as it is to truly predict future needs for senior care for ourselves and our community, we have heard important ideas and priorities from the community, and are planning to be ready. 

Our estimated median population age is 62.5 years, versus 41.1 years (3) in the rest of Canada (4). Our community survey suggests that up to 79% of our population plan to continue living on the NBP into their senior years, and may eventually require some form of supportive care. 

(3) https://townfolio.co/on/northern-bruce-peninsula/demographics

(4) https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/canada-population/

We learned that people on the NBP have an overwhelming preference to age and receive care in their own home. 88% of survey respondents want to live in their own home in their senior years. When asked about their final years, 44% of respondents would still like to live in their own home, 21% would like to live in a residence with other seniors, and 13% would like to live in a nursing or LTC home. 

However, our survey suggests that there is a massive gap in supportive care services for people living in the NBP. For all key health and care services that we included in the survey, there are at least 2.5 times (up to 26.5 times) as many respondents who needed services in the last year but did not receive them. The services that have the largest gaps identified by survey participants include: end of life care, personal care, community support, transportation assistance, and rehabilitation care. For those planning to leave the NBP, the second most selected reason is the possibility of needing more care than is available here. Aging at home requires planning to ensure accessible home environments are built, so that care can be facilitated. On average, respondents have three accessibility features in their home (out of a possible 10 that were listed), with most people having a washroom on the main floor, a wheelchair accessible kitchen and/or front door, and an entry with one or no steps. Lifting devices between floors, ramped entrances, and grab rails near the toilet are found in the least number of homes. 

We learned that 73% of survey participants would consider LTC as an option for themselves, a family member, or for someone that they are caregivers for. Of these respondents, 58% would consider LTC for themselves, but fewer would consider LTC for a family member, or for someone they are a caregiver for. Respondents who have a connection to Golden Dawn but who are not residents, are more likely to consider (5) LTC as an option. 

(5) Those who: a) have a family member who resides there, b) is a past/ current employee, and/or c) has a family member who is a past/ current employee.

When given a list of nine issues around aging, the following were ranked as the top 5 issues that we face on the NBP

1. Housing that is accessible and affordable 

2. Food that is healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate 

3. Local caregiver workforce 

4. Nursing and personal care in my own home 

5. Homemaking services 

Our survey results corroborate what we heard from the stakeholders we consulted – that we need housing for more people, and a holistic and predictable continuum of care. 

Overall, stakeholders have been supportive of the Golden Dawn redevelopment ideas. The engagement process has helped to start conversations with diverse stakeholders, knowledgeable allies, and potential partners. 

There have been concerns about losing long-term care (as we currently know it) in the community, having adequate levels of care and staffing, coordinating logistics, mitigating liabilities, and having affordable and feasible options to pursue. All these concerns are being taken seriously. 

Stakeholders identified that there is an important opportunity for Golden Dawn to be a leader in holistic and community-based models of care that focus on the actual needs of the NBP community. They also highlighted the opportunities to develop efficiencies between services, improve and integrate programming for more people in the community, and trigger other development opportunities. 

Our next steps 

We will use Golden Dawn’s existing and growing assets to continue planning for redevelopment in a way that addresses the needs of our NBP community, aligns with the mission of our organization, and is financially sound. This includes a focus on affordable housing, integrated care options, and community-based services that will benefit the wider community. We will continue to use emerging trends and best practices in senior care and housing to guide our efforts. We look forward to your continued engagement.