It was back in 2007 when the doors of Heritage Place opened to the community to welcome the first tenants. The creation of this home came about as the result of many discussions involving several different societies working together and led by project manager Barb Stevenson and The Alberni Valley Assisted Living Society under the presidency of Sylvia Springer.
The societies involved were the Clayoquot Continuing Care Society (Barb Stevenson), Alberni Clayoquot Regional Hospital District (the late Glenn Wong), the Public Private Partnerships of CMHC (Steve Hall), Advocate for Senior Services in the Alberni Valley (Ernie Bigelow, Hugo Jorganson), the Vancouver Island Health Authority (Robyn Monrufet), and the Abbeyfield Society (Marlene Dietrich and the late Terry Whyte). The City of Port Alberni was represented by then Mayor Ken McRrae.
“After two years of planning shovels went into the ground and work was started by Bill Goorts, contractor. In April 2007 Heritage Place opened its doors to its first tenants,” says Doug Murray, Manager of Heritage Place. Murray has been the manager for the facility’s entire 10 years. He is responsible for the general running of the site and works with Home and Community Care to determine intake and exit strategies.
“We have two different staff groups,” he explains. “Hospitality services are provided by the Alberni Valley Assisted Living staff and all of the care needs are provided by Port Alberni’s Home and Community Care office.”
Last month a special event to commemorate the occasion was held by tenants, staff, volunteers, families and board members in their home. Public officials, including the mayory, the MLA and other dignitaries were in attendance. The event was hosted by Sylvia Springer, president of the board of directors, She praised all those who have made Heritage Place a comfortable and enjoyable place to live. She also expressed appreciation to the staff and all the volunteers who continuously bring their support and help to the tenants. In her welcome address, she also mentioned the valuable support of the families who, in many instances, assist with activities and regular visits.
Before the official cutting of the anniversary cake by two original tenants of the home, Roberta Gil and John Shaw, the members of Phil’s Harmonics String Orchestra delighted the audience with classical musical pieces.
Heritage Place has successfully completed its first decade of operation thanks to a dedicated staff and volunteers, and members of the board. “I have been the president since the day we opened, 10 years ago, and the reason I have been involved in this place is because our senior population is changing fast and we have to advocate for them in order to continue improving the quality of their lives. They appreciate what we do, as a board, and that, in itself, is an incentive for all of us,” Springer says.
“When this place was being built as an Assisted Living Home, I immediately considered it to be an ideal home for me right next door to Echo Village, where my wife Phillis used to live,” John Shaw said. “We have a great home here: each tenant gets an excellent suite; care workers to see to your care needs, if required; maintenance personnel to make sure everything is in working order; your meals are served by excellent staff.”
The 10-year-old building, located behind Echo Village, has 26 units (suites) on three levels, surrounded by a gazebo and gardens. Each suite has a full kitchen (regular size fridge, stove and microwave oven); a storage room; a patio or balcony. Bathrooms in the suites are fully accessible. The place is designed for seniors who require some assistance for day-to-day living. Residents receive two meals per day, weekly light housekeeping and flat linen laundry.
“Heritage has a very capable activities coordinator who designs and conducts activities for those interested in them,” adds Murray.
It is important to point out that Heritage Place tenants benefit from various regular and seasonal recreational activities, including regular exercise classes, crafts, outings, musical sessions, etc. “We have our activities coordinator, who is ‘out of this world’,” Shaw said.