By Wanda Kurchaba
As we slather on creams, add fibre to our diets, and discover each day that we’re not quite as agile as we once were, we’re well aware that we can’t turn back the hands of time. What we can do is live our best life and remind ourselves that growing old is indeed a privilege. With that privilege, however, often comes tough decisions.
One of the most challenging decisions for the aging population is dealing with the basic need of housing. As this demographic grows in Manitoba, entrepreneurs like Gail Freeman-Campbell are not only seeing the increasing need for quality housing but are taking action to give seniors and their families more options to choose from.
Four years ago, through her business Daughter on Call, Gail introduced a new concept of senior housing. She built a home that gives the elderly another option to choose from when it’s no longer safe or desirable to continue living by themselves in their house, apartment, or condominium.
The setting provides residents with a comfortable, true home atmosphere, where you have companionship, privacy, and 24-hour care and security.
“The concept that we’ve created is something that people are embracing. When you ask people where would you want to live when you get older, in an institutional type setting, in your own home, or somewhere else where you get to call the shots? The first answer is always their own home, their second choice is to live in a group living environment such as we offer,” said Gail Freeman-Campbell, owner of Daughter on Call.
Daughter on Call now has seven elderly group homes in the Westman region. There are three in Brandon, two in Carberry, and two in Pinawa. In total, they have space for 52 residents.
The houses vary in size, some having six bedrooms and others with eight. The residents share the common areas, however, they all have private bedrooms and private bathrooms. Some of the homes also have deluxe bedrooms available to accommodate couples. Couples can move in together and stay together even if they both don’t require care.
One of many advantages to living in a Daughter on Call elderly group home is choice and flexibility. Since it’s as close as one can get to living at home, residents are free to make their own choices on things that we take for granted. For instance, they can choose when to get up in the morning or when to go to bed; they can choose what they want to eat and when. Residents are encouraged to participate in the running of the home, which means they can help in the kitchen, bake, or assist with other household tasks such as caring for pets or tending to the gardens in the safe outdoor spaces.
“We follow The Eden Alternative® philosophy of care. What those teachings tell us is that majority of the elderly in the world are dying of three things – helplessness, loneliness, and boredom. In a Daughter on Call home, these things don’t have a chance to grow or flourish. We keep people busy and active; we give them purpose,” said Gail.
With the low staff-to-resident ratios and the close connections between them, staff get to know the residents well and notice even the slightest changes in them. The homes have nurses and physicians who provide house-call services, which means they offer the same service as an assisted living facility or personal care home but in a smaller, more family-style environment.
Daughter on Call is very progressive when it comes to caring for someone living with a dementia. They follow Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach to Care® method and have been successful in reducing residents medications and implementing non-medical measures to enable them to continue living a life of purpose.
As seniors move into the Daughter on Call homes, Gail said they track the number of falls, hospitalizations, and infections compared to the year before they came to the elderly group home. What they’ve discovered is that they have reduced the hospitalization of people in their care by 94 per cent and they were able to reduce falls by 88 per cent. With their small numbers of staff and residents, they’ve never had a flu outbreak at any of the homes. Gail said the health and well-being of the residents, as well as their employees, is and will continue to be their number one priority.
While the residential branch of Daughter on Call has taken off, Gail said they also still offer a vast array of services that the business was originally built on. Working throughout the Westman region, she has 85 employees providing care to people who need the extra support. Some of the ways they can help seniors is with personal hygiene, administration of medications, post-surgical care, housekeeping, companionship, or assistance in getting to medical appointments. They can also assist in applying for government funding to offset the cost of care in their homes.