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By Gordon Lambie

Local Journalism Initiative

The CIUSSS de l’Estrie - CHUS, the Eastern Townships’ regional health authority, broke ground on the first of the new “maison des aînés” model of alternative care homes on Monday. Work on the new facility, which is located at the intersection of Southière street and route 112, should begin this week and is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2022.

According to Danika Manseau, the Director of programs for intellectual impairment, autism spectrum disorders, and physical disabilities for the CIUSSS, the Magog facility will offer 48 spaces, with a clientele that is split half-and half between seniors and adults with physical or intellectual impairments, or who have autism spectrum disorders.

“We are very happy with this new environment, which has really been planned out with the aim of making residents feel at home,” Manseau said, noting that Quebec does not currently have spaces designed specifically to serve people other than seniors when it comes to long-term care.

“Right now, the only place we have for long term care is in senior care facilities,” said Robin Marie Coleman, the deputy CEO of the CIUSSS de l’Estrie – CHUS. “It’s not adapted to their specific needs.”

Coleman and Manseau explained that the “maison des aînés” model is meant to operate as a middle ground between the institutional care of the province’s long-term care homes (CHSLDs) and home care. While the new facilities will be built around the idea of communal living within a structured environment staffed by a team of professionals, those living in the homes will be actively engaged in aspects of their daily lives like meal preparation and activity planning.

“The whole concept is really to implicate the different residents in the activities of their daily lives,” Coleman said, explaining that there has been research done to suggest that active engagement in one’s living environment can help to maintain or improve quality of life and autonomy both in seniors and those living with some kind of physical or mental impairment.

“It’s not exactly the same profile of patient as we see in our long-term care facilities,” she added, noting that a certain level of base autonomy will be important for those moving into the new home.

The deputy CEO said that the Magog centre is the first of four to be built across the territory. Three of these, in Magog, Sherbrooke and Granby, will follow the mixed model, while the fourth, in Coaticook, will just be for seniors. The four homes will have a combined total of 264 beds, divided into 12-bed groups.

In addition to keeping residents active within the home, Manseau said that the location of the new facility was picked in part with the goal of giving residents the opportunity to remain connected to the surrounding community.

Asked about the staffing of the new facilities in a context where the healthcare network is already facing significant shortages, Coleman said that the goal is to have a more mixed staff than one would find in a long-term care home at the moment.

“There will be a lot more implication from different types of professionals,” she said, listing psychoeducators, physiotherapists, and career councillors among the non-nursing staff.

“Nothing is going to be easy, though. We’re lacking personnel in every walk of life right now.”

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