News — 11 April 2012

By Chris Marchand

Dryden’s Grace Haven Adult Day Program has found a new home — soon to become a permanent fixture of Patricia Gardens Seniors Services home.

It’s a move that will offer much more certainty for the publicly-funded activity program that reaches out to isolated seniors or those suffering from significant memory loss. Since its inception in the former Our Saviour Lutheran Church on Albert St., the program has been hosted in a variety of settings, settling most recently at the new Lutheran Church in North Dryden. “From our perspective, it offers some financial certainty,” says Grace Haven Board Chair Martin MacKinnon. “But we also see it as an opportunity to expand our services. There are a lot of folks in Patricia Gardens who could make use of some of what we do.”

For 16 years, Grace Haven has scraped along gleaning a large portion of its operating funds from community donations. Major fundraising efforts like the week-long Festival of Trees and others raise funds in excess of $65,000 per year, but exact a toll on staff and volunteers, says MacKinnon. While the need for fundraising won’t entirely disappear, MacKinnon says he hope the merge will alleviate some of the pressure.

“Volunteers are very hard to come by and my board is basically burnt out,” he said. “Finding funds to raise in Dryden can be hard.”

The program has been performing an audition of sorts in recent months, setting up shop at Patricia Gardens one day per week to work with an increasingly higher-needs resident base.

“We’ve seen some real benefits to it,” said Greg Gamble, chair of Patricia Regional Senior Services. “About a year ago we recognized that we had a greater need for adult day programming in the seniors’ facility for five to six days a week. We see this as a real opportunity to sustain Grace Haven’s Adult Day Programming and grow it in the future.”

Gamble says all of the program’s existing staff have been offered positions. With the board amalgamation process already underway, the program is expected to be incorporated into Patricia Gardens by May 1.

It will operate under the same banner and will remain accessible to seniors in the community outside the care home setting.

The merge offers significant costs savings and falls in line with the Local Health Integration Network’s (LHIN) renewed mandate to tighten administrative budgets by integrating programs where possible.

“There are some opportunities to reduce administrative costs in terms of insurance, audits, we’re providing the space rent-free. We can dump that money right back into programming,” said Gamble. “The LHIN has indicated to us that we should be looking at integration opportunities.”

Some renovations may occur to accommodate the program, likely to take place in the main floor dining area, which Gamble says is currently underutilized.

 

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Chris Marchand is a native of Dryden, Ontario. He served his first newspaper internship at The Dryden Observer in 1998 while attending journalism studies at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops B.C. He's worked desks as both reporter and editor at the Fernie Free Press as well as filled the role of sports editor at the Cranbrook Daily Townsman. Marchand was named editor of the Dryden Observer in Aug. 2009.

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