The Willows keeping residents close to home
The Willows, a new community care residence in O’Leary, has seen a lot of progress since construction began in the fall of 2022.
With a tentative opening date of early 2024, Community Seniors Cooperative Ltd (CSCL) chair Sally Lockhart says the project’s recent progress can be attributed, in part, to programs like the Community Housing Fund.
“These types of programs that have given us staff support have been great,” she said. “What we find is some seniors are leaving their homes and families to move to other parts of the Island to get the care they need.”
THE CSCL received $50,000 through the Community Housing Fund to hire a project manager to become the general manager of The Willows, overseeing licensing, staffing and everything else to make this facility a comfortable and safe home for its residents.
“Having a General Manager in place months before the residence opens has given local seniors someone to talk to about The Willows and the services it will offer. People are much more aware of the new residence and are coming forward to put their name on the waiting list.”
The Willows is a 50-unit affordable facility for adults and seniors who require general basic supports for everyday living. Each room in The Willows is private and will have a half bath, as well as housekeeping and daily assistance provided.
Lockhart said with construction of The Willows, not only will 50 O’Leary residents get to stay close to home, but more local jobs will be created for staffing at the facility.
With the building already showing very visible signs of progress, Lockhart said it’s a relief to move on to things that are not funding related – such as interior design.
“Now we are doing things like choosing paint colours,” she said with a laugh, “We never thought we’d get to this.”
There are still challenges in the future, but ones they welcome. At the top of the list is choosing the tenants who will live at The Willows.
Right now, there are 101 people on the list and, of the 50 rooms, 20 are already reserved for the residents who currently live at the Lady Slipper Villa, which will close when The Willows opens.
The Community Housing Fund, in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), supports the creation of new housing initiatives focusing on affordability, vulnerable populations, assisted living or those who require increased support. The fund is divided into three categories: capacity building and research; project management and professional services; and construction and development.