New facility meets huge demand for Dementia Care

Georgian Bay Senior Care Center Resident with 1947 Dodge (CNW Group/Georgian Bay Retirement Home)

PENETANGUISHENE, ON, Aug.1, 2014 /CNW/ - The growing number of seniors suffering from dementia has been described as a demographic time bomb.   

But the resulting desperate need for modern, leading-edge care for such sufferers is being met in this region by Georgian Bay Retirement Home.

A new, state-of-the-art 52-bed facility using the latest techniques in the care and treatment of such patients, especially those with Alzheimer's disease, officially opens today (Aug. 1).

The new unit has been named after Dr. Sandra Black, a senior scientist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto and a leader in dementia research in Canada. 

Dr. Black addressed area health care officials and dignitaries at the event.

"We believe our facility is ground breaking," says administrator Debi Vance. "There are few, if any, models like it in Canada or the U.S.," says Vance.

"There are 25,000 square feet of space indoors and outdoors, with the design being retro 50s and 60s." 

The idea is to make dementia patients feel comfortable in surroundings familiar to those in which they grew up.

"Residents can enjoy all the meaningful activities of everyday life . . .  a grocery store, barber shop, coffee shop, beach, putting green, bowling, movies and even a garage with a vintage car (1947 Dodge) to trigger fond memories."

Care, compassion -- and fun -- are key elements of the program, Vance says. 

Once Alzheimer's disease takes hold, it doesn't let go. There is no cure and while drug treatment can slow its progression by a few years, the brain will never fully recover.

As baby boomers age, the number of sufferers is expected to skyrocket to 1.4-million cases by the year 2031, according to the Alzheimer Society of Canada.

"Long-term beds for dementia patients in Ontario are hard to find and there are huge waiting lists everywhere," Vance says.

"CCAC (community care access centres) can make beds available in a severe crisis only. They do the best they can given the demands and budget limitations," Vance says. 

But new units like Georgian Bay's offer more hope.

Theirs is a variation of a pioneering program known as Hogewey, established in Weesp, The Netherlands in 2010.

Hogewey uses "reminiscence therapy," in a model village as opposed to traditional nursing home care, keeping residents more active mentally and physically and reducing use of medication.

People with dementia often have difficulty remembering what's recently happened in their lives, leaving them confused, vulnerable and less confident.

However, their memories from years ago often remain intact. 

Recalling these can be immensely therapeutic and enjoyable for them.

Reminiscence therapy gives patients the opportunity to meet as a group and share their stories and experiences. It helps boost their self-esteem and provides a valuable connection between past and present. 

Georgian Bay uses reminiscence therapy as well as Eden Alternative and Montessori school techniques in its own unique model. Eden involves massage and other methods to treat the whole person.

The ratio of staff to patients there is an "unheard of five to one," Vance notes.

The facility will not only serve the North Simcoe Muskoka Region but is expected to attract the majority of patients from the GTA, Vance says.

Due to extremely high demand, places in the memory care unit are expected to go quickly.

The new facility is an addition to the existing home for seniors that has existed on the Harriet St. site for decades.

Formerly owned by the county and known as Georgian Manor, it was taken over in 2014 by a group of medical professionals who have a commitment to ensuring their patients enjoy a healthy life and lifestyle.

Penetanguishene is located on scenic Georgian Bay 150 kilometres north of Toronto.

SOURCE Georgian Bay Retirement Home

Image with caption: "Georgian Bay Senior Care Center Resident with 1947 Dodge (CNW Group/Georgian Bay Retirement Home)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20140801_C2748_PHOTO_EN_4605.jpg

For further information: contact Vance at 705 549-1143.