This is part one of six in a series about aging in the City of Kawartha Lakes.
I’ve had the privilege to call Lindsay my home from as far back as I can remember. Like many home-grown kids from a small town, the primary goal was to leave this community at the first opportunity – and that’s what I did. I did so not knowing that one day I would be back in our area to raise my own family and once again call Lindsay home.
I have been serving seniors in various capacities since 1994, where I worked in the kitchen of a nursing home and quickly began to learn how satisfying it was to serve those who made our town — our country — what it is today. After high school and a brief post-secondary career to become a nurse, I, like many other 18-year-olds had to make a decision as to what I was going to do when I grew up.
I knew I wanted to help others but the initial thought of becoming a personal support worker (PSW) wasn’t one I took lightly. I can’t speak for all caregivers but the idea of conducting personal care on seniors wasn’t especially appealing, but I knew I could do it, and felt that if I was blessed to have the gift to serve others I should. So I enrolled in the personal support worker course offered at Fleming College here in Lindsay.
Not long after graduation I married my high school sweetheart and followed her and her career to Windsor, where I was hired at a private, high-end retirement facility to conduct personal care. It was challenging, but gratifying, and I slowly started to gravitate toward seniors who suffered from memory impairment.
After conducting personal care for two years I was asked to move locations and manage an Alzheimer’s wing in Unionville, and then later I managed a facility of five cottages which housed 14 seniors each in Snohomish, Washington.
Later I joined the corporate world of senior care and helped to manage and oversee retirement communities from Vancouver Island to Mississauga, all the while living back home in Lindsay. After two years without direct daily contact with the senior population, though, I grew more interested in providing more personal care to those at home, rather than trying to provide ‘personalized’ care to over 100 seniors under one roof.
Aging Challenges in the Kawarthas
To put it in perspective the senior population 65 and older is about to grow from 3,500 seniors in the Kawarthas to 6,700 by 2030. Because of our large senior population, only 45 per cent of our region is currently employed. The average wait time for a long term care facility in Ontario is 149 days. However in our Central East Region the wait time for a nursing home is 252 days. To put it simply there aren’t enough ‘facilities’ to accommodate our senior population now, let alone in the year 2030.
That’s when the concept of a personalized, private, home care company came to me. After my father came up with the name ‘Castle Keep’ I started writing a business plan to pursue my dream of running my own business in the town that means so much to myself and family.
For the next 6 months here in The Lindsay Advocate I will write about options for seniors in our region, and the associated costs and challenges with each option. After six years of operating Castle Keep Retirement in our region we have not only learned a lot, but have been recognized for our efforts by our community.
Castle Keep was named most Innovative Business 2012, Best New Company 2014, Customer Service Excellence 2014, Hospitality Excellence 2015, and Employer of the Year 2017.
We hope the knowledge and insight we have gained since 2012 will serve our community well.