In 2003, a group of Salt Spring Island professionals, themselves looking ahead to retirement, were inspired to create a unique seniors’ housing project for a key corner in the village of Ganges. The property is adjacent to Lady Minto Hospital, Greenwoods Eldercare, the Seniors’ Centre and across from shopping. The development of seniors’ housing on the corner would complete the health block.
Built by Islanders for Islanders, it was agreed that a design in keeping with Island sensibilities was paramount. What aesthetics are important to Islanders? Islanders look for definitively west coast architecture, an open plan, lots of natural light and a strong relationship between home and garden. One institutional building was not going to deliver on those aesthetics so it was decided to build 5 very large west coast residential houses in a lushly landscaped village setting. Covered walkways link the houses and a walking path links every patio to the parking area. ‘Home-like’ was the word adopted to describe both the design and manner in which services would be delivered.
Construction began in 2004. Nine private ground-level wheelchair-accessible suites radiating around a central common area in each 6500 square foot house offered interesting opportunities for suite sizes and angles. The design allowed for each suite to have its own private garden patio and exterior access. There are 5 suite models, from studios to one and two bedrooms. An apartment on the second level of each house is reserved for resident staff available by pager in case of emergency.
With 9 – 12 residents in each house, the residents’ dining experience is an intimate family-like one. Hard of hearing residents appreciate the absence of the clatter of cutlery and dishes heard in the dining rooms of large facilities. Serving a small group in each House translates to very personalized attention.
From quiet seating areas among the landscape, residents observe hummingbirds, resident quail, deer, bunnies and the occasional raccoon. Many residents take their daily exercise, rain or shine, under the covered walkway between houses. Residents visit back and forth with friends in neighbouring houses and all residents get together for combined dinners and entertainment. The dozen+ events scheduled each month include Elder-Yoga, bridge, concerts (music of all genres), demonstrations, presentations, arts/crafts and more.