A group of Chestermerians are hoping to bring a senior’s care facility to the city in the next five years to allow local seniors to age in place in the community.
Known as the Action Group for Aging in Place or AGAP, they have been working on an action plan to get a facility built since last fall.
“The reason we love the name AGAP is because we’re trying to fill a gap in Chestermere,” said Sherri Standish the AGAP Convener.
“And that gap being someplace for our seniors to go to when they can’t live at home anymore,” she said.
Currently, most seniors end up moving to Calgary when they need more support than what they can get at home.
One of the first steps taken to get a facility built was to apply for a grant in May 2017 to hire a consultant to help them move the process forward.
With the grant, they were able to hire Facilitator Tim Moorhouse to help them create an action plan to get a new seniors facility built in Chestermere.
“We have a 14-step action plan, we’re probably through about half of it and work is continuing on the other action items.
“On tap are things like developing a business case for the facility, some advocacy and engaging the provincial government, federal government,” said Moorhouse.
The next step that is needed is a needs assessment which will be conducted by the city with the assistance of AGAP.
“That’s being conducted by the department of community services,” said Standish, “the community’s going to be hearing about that this summer.”
The assessment will see seniors in Chestermere asked to complete a survey.
“And it won’t be focused just on getting this facility built, it’s time for us to have a general seniors survey,” she said.
While more information is needed to allow for the creation of a business case and to help attract developers by showing the need in Chestermere, Moorhouse said its quite evident that the city needs a care facility.
“In some ways its preparing the ground, or creating the readiness for whatever option ends up going forward,” said Moorhouse.
He said that it will be easier moving forward to come to the table with the work completed showing what the seniors population and the pre-seniors population is and whether it is increasing.
“The needs assessment will chart that for us,” he said.
Even with just the creation of the action plan there has been renewed interest by developers to build a facility.
While the focused goal is to get the facility built, AGAP would like to see Chestermere become a destination for seniors.
“We know subjectively that seniors are getting to a certain point and the leaving the community because the supports aren’t here,” he said.
AGAP and Moorhouse hopes that with the building of a seniors facility, “that people can come and be comfortable that the facilities they need are here.”
To that end, Moorhouse said that they are focused on taking action and attracting the right people in the community to help move the process forwards with the goal of seeing shovels in the ground within three years and a facility opened within five years.
A major step in attracting some of the right people came last fall when the need for a facility became one of the election issues for the municipal election.
“I’m so thankful for that,” said Standish.
Since the election, there are now four councilors involved with AGAP.
There are about 25 core members with additional volunteers coming and going as specific skills are needed.
Standish said that they are still looking for people who have the right skills to help move the process along.
Anyone who believes they possess those skills are invited to contact Standish at firstname.lastname@example.org.