AMHERST - Amherst's newest seniors complex is rapidly taking shape and officials from Shannex are looking ahead to the day when Northumberland Hall accepts its first residents.
"Construction is coming along very well and we're on target for an early to mid-winter 2010 opening," Shannex building for a better living community liaison Helen Patriquin said Tuesday while conducting a tour of the 45,000-square-foot complex on Willow Street.
"We'll be discussing the actual opening date with our health system partners such as the Department of Health and the Cumberland Health Authority, and as we get a little further along we'll be having those discussions and setting an actual date."
Amherst is among 11 communities designated by the province for new long-term care beds and services as part of the Continuing Care Strategy.
Northumberland Hall is the sixth of nine being built by Shannex with Elk Court in Brookfield and another facility in Kentville being the latest to open.
Northumberland Hall will support 36 people who have been assessed by the Department of Health and the facility will operate as a Level 2 continuing care facility. Admission to the Amherst facility will be managed by the department's Single Entry Access system.
The building will have three interior households with each household featuring a home-like living room, dining room and kitchen area. Each household will also have direct access to a secure garden area so clients can enjoy the outside.
"We're trying to create a community within a community and within the facility there will be smaller gathering areas that will create a more homelike environment for the clients," Patriquin said while touring one of the units that's nearing completion.
Clients will each have private rooms with each room including a large window providing views and natural light while each client room is equipped with a wheelchair-accessible washroom.
The facility will also include a hair salon and a wellness centre for physiotherapy and occupational therapy as well as community meeting space in the village square portion of the building.
Kim MacDonald, the regional manager for Shannex, said clients will feel at home within Northumberland Hall, adding it's the corporation's philosophy of service for each of its facilities.
"Our philosophy is your life, your choice, your home and the clients will make decisions about how they live their lives. We'll talk to them about their needs, but they will ultimately make the decisions about things like what time they want to get up, what meals they want to have and the activities they want to take part in," MacDonald said. "We're getting very positive feedback from our clients in other centres. They like being able to decide how they live."
Right now, Shannex is focusing on recruiting staff for Northumberland Hall including continuing care assistants, licensed practical nurses and registered nurses along with personal care workers. Its main focus right now is finding a maintenance co-ordinator and a site manager.
"We have information sessions planned over the rest of the month and we're recruiting for several positions," said Patriquin, adding Northumberland Hall will employ as many as 60-70 full and part-time employees.
There will also be numerous opportunities for volunteers and the company is hoping to forge partnerships with Amherst Regional High School, located across Willow Street from Northumberland Hall.