Montreal-area long-term care residence shows new way to care for seniors

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New Long-term care residence shows new way to care for seniors
WATCH: A new seniors and long-term care home in Châteauguay on the south shore of Montreal, is welcoming its first residents. The new home is unlike most facilities of its kind, differences which staff and clients say signals a shift in thinking in how seniors should be cared for. Global’s Phil Carpenter reports. – May 17, 2024

After 60 years of marriage, Bernard Renaud was forced to part ways with his wife Micheline Bickley — sort of.

“There comes a while when you’re taking care of your closest love and you feel that you cannot provide what she needs,” he told Global News.

Bickley has Alzheimer’s so Renaud had to move her into a new seniors home in Chateauguay, south of Montreal. His wife had been living in a traditional seniors residence when they were offered a place at Maison des aînés et alternative de Châteauguay.

“I said, by all means,” he laughs. “It was like winning the lottery.”

This long-term care facility for seniors with dementia as well as adults with special needs is different in the way residents are cared for. There’s space for 96 seniors and 24 younger special needs adults, all organized into 10 households.

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“We have 12 people living per unit,” head manager Caroline Brookes says. “We call it a maisonnette, so a small household environment.”

She adds that residents in each unit share a large, common living space as well as a full kitchen, “so their families can come, they can come and have breakfast with them, come make a pot of spaghetti sauce with them.”

Brookes adds each room has its own private shower with safety features, and clients have access to a balcony so that they don’t feel confined.

Renaud goes to visit his wife daily and says the place doesn’t feel at all like an institution, and that Bickley is thrilled.

“Here, instead of being like a sausage machine, if Micheline wants to stay in bed until 9:30, 10 o clock, no problem,” he says.

Eventually, there will be a daycare as well and the kids will be allowed to interact with the seniors. The idea, officials say, is to have generations mix and benefit from each other, signalling a new way of caring for seniors — not pushing them aside.

According to Sonia Bélanger, Quebec minister responsible for seniors, more homes like this are coming.

“It’s the 28th to be opened in Quebec,” she points out. “This is one of the 46 seniors and alternative homes we’ve announced for a total of 3,480 places in Quebec.”

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The one in Châteauguay was opened in March and it will continue to receive more residents in the coming weeks.

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