It was great to see senior’s housing issues in Port McNeill take the spotlight in last week’s edition of The Gazette. Seniors, along with children, have a special place in everyone’s heart.
First, I want to say that I whole-heartedly agree with the notion that we need to do more to address housing, socialization and bathing needs of seniors. That needs to happen in conjunction to an overhaul in the way community support, in particular home support, is delivered. We also need to be talking about ageism, transportation, seniors health care access, community design, community culture, caregiver burnout, etc., etc.
While the town’s proposal had merits, it also had flaws. I won’t rehash those flaws as clarification at the town council meeting was provided: the proposal was merely a first draft, apparently just a way to start a dialogue.
OK, so now we are talking. Let’s focus on the future.
I believe we have an opportunity to do something really cool in Port McNeill. We could build six more units and a bathing and meeting facility for seniors for $1.5-2 million as the town proposed. That would be nice. It would get a job done. I just think we can do better. Let’s address the issues, but in a way that will truly make an impact on the lives of seniors.
Imagine a proposal that was developed with all the wisdom that elders had to bring to bear. Imagine a proposal that brought all the experience health care professionals brought to the table. Imagine a proposal that included architects, designers, and developers. Imagine a proposal that included input from caregivers. Imagine a proposal that was situated within the context of Port McNeill as a whole. Imagine a proposal that was introspective, that asked if there were other ways to spend the same amount of money but achieve better health outcomes. Imagine a process where you got to give your input. What would that look like?
Imagine a housing model where seniors were owners or renters. Imagine a model where the residents were in charge of developing the culture. Imagine a model where the focus was a return to better health. Imagine a model where young people were integrated. Imagine a model that incorporated technology and design elements. Imagine a model where a bath facility and meeting place were integrated in to a space where there was so much more going on. Imagine a model where a range of supports were available. What would that look like?
We could, and should, examine what is happening elsewhere. Innovative stuff is being tried all around the world. Supportive Housing. Cohousing. Intergenerational care homes. Fresh takes on Assisted Living and Residential Care. Dementia Villages. Stuff that we haven’t even heard about yet.
As for what’s currently coming from the town, the 1980s called and they want their proposal back. Now it’s time to make a better proposal, together.
Matt Martin, Port McNeill