Unique housing anticipates changing needs

Moving is seldom a pleasant exercise. Often physically and emotionally draining, it’s a task that becomes even more difficult to face as we age.

A new concept in retirement communities enabling retirees to age in place — without the added disruption caused by up-rooting or expensive renovations — has been realized at Crescent Gardens, a unique development in the White Rock/Surrey area.

The Crescent Gardens project provides for three different lifestyles under one roof. The four-storey concrete and steel building has 184 units that include 54 condominium, 57 congregate-living, and 73 multi-level care suites with ensuite bathrooms and showers.

Because the building is designed to accommodate both individuals and couples with diverse needs, residents are offered a “menu” of service packages to meet their evolving requirements. For example, they can change accommodation or move to the multi-level care floor on a temporary or long-term basis as necessary.

This feature has proved to be particularly appealing to people preparing to move into a retirement community. “More than 65 per cent of our condos have been sold and all the congregate-living suites have been leased. Tre’s a growing waiting list,” says Sarah Lidstone, community relations manager. “The multi-level and special care floor is also attracting a growing amount of interest,” she adds.

All the user-friendly suites are designed with seniors in mind. The condos and congregate-living suites, for example, have peepholes, levered handles on doors and faucets, knee-high electrical outlets, light switches placed low and easy to operate, and bathrooms are outfitted with grab bars and raised toilets.

Condos range in price from $100,000 to $200,000. Owners pay $495 a month for a basic service package that includes weekly housekeeping, 24-hour emergency response monitoring, use of recreational facilities with participation in programs, and ten meals a month in the dining room. Suites in the congregate-living section cost $1,950 a month, including three meals a day, snacks, access to all social and recreational amenities, daily visits from nursing staff if required, and weekly housekeeping and laundry.

The multi-level care area in the third floor has a residential feel to it. Registered nurses, for example, carry wireless phones to keep noise levels to a minimum as they go about their business. Residents in this section have their own dining room, as well as access to special amenities such as hydrotherapy bathing rooms and a range of services from healthcare professionals — including social workers and physiotherapists.

The entire building, with its surrounding landscaped gardens, has a cozy country club atmosphere. The ground floor features a large common area with a fireplace, billiard room, library and well-appointed audio visual room; and a large formal dinning room opens onto a central courtyard with a gazebo centrepiece.

There are recreational and social activities and programs for residents of all levels of need and interest, and even a new air-conditioned bus to take residents to nearby White Rock for shopping, entertainment and worship.

Norman and Mary Wardlow, both in their 80s, were among the first people to move into Crescent Gardens when it opened at the beginning of October. “Mary has been in extended care since we bought, and now it’s very convenient for me to visit her — I simply go downstairs from our condo,” says Wardlow.

Norma Schiller, a widow in her late 70s, decided to move to Crescent Gardens from another retirement home “because there’s care here if I need it.” Not only did Schiller rent an apartment in the congregate living section, she persuaded her older sister to rent the adjoining apartment. “I like the concept of the project and I find all the staff very friendly,” remarks Schiller. “I’m impressed by the safety and security features — the automatic sprinklers, smoke alarms and the emergency call system.

“And most important, I don’t want my son to have the responsibility of having to decide where to place me if that becomes necessary,” says Schiller.