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Seniors’ housing CEO eyes expansion

By January 5, 2023No Comments
Stephanie Miller, the new CEO of Lloydminster Region Housing Group, centre, spoke to seniors in a late December meeting about her commitment to expanding seniors housing, including the proposed expansion of Pioneer Lodge pitched by former Lodge administrator Joy Bell, left, while Graham Brown, president of the Lloydminster Concerned Citizens for Seniors Care Society, looks on. Geoff Lee Meridian Source

 

Stephanie Miller, the new CEO of Lloydminster Region Housing Group (LRHG), is carrying the torch for a proposed multi-million dollar expansion of Pioneer Lodge.

Miller talked about her commitment to grow and improve all seniors’ housing under their wing at the final 2022 meeting of the Lloydminster Concerned Citizens for Seniors Care Society on Dec. 20 —less than one month into her job.

On hand was Joy Bell, the former Pioneer Lodge and House administrator, who pitched the expansion a year ago at a then-estimated cost of $23.5 million to meet the demand.

“Joy has started a project about expanding the lodge and I hope to carry that forward as well. The government is opening an opportunity in the spring, so it’s basically just prep work right now,” Miller told the meeting. 

“I’m jumping in with both feet and immersing my time, hopefully to expand housing in Lloydminster for seniors.”

That statement got a round of applause from seniors in attendance who were relieved Miller will take a proactive approach to seniors’ housing following the merger of the board of Pioneer Lodge and the Housing Group in June.

“I think we’re looking at a new direction for some of the facilities in town. I think that’s really positive,” said Concerned Citizens’ president Graham Brown. 

Miller explained LRHG owns the Pioneer facilities and operates 415 rental units in Lloyd, Kitscoty and Marwayne for independent senior living and families, owned by the Alberta government.

She says the wait list, depending on the level of care, can exceed over 60, but “at this point in time, it fluctuates from week to week.”

Miller says the wait list at the independent living Lodge is about 10 to 15 right now. 

“We are in the process of filling our vacant suites,” she said.

Miller notes during COVID there was a big slowdown on intakes.

“We weren’t allowed to bring in individuals, however, that’s since been lifted. They are moving in quite regularly.”

Miller was invited to the meeting by Brown to answer a lot of questions from seniors who live in the LRHG facilities who wanted to know if they will have more access to the new board concerning maintenance and safety issues.

“I do know the board is always accessible. If there were barriers in the past, definitely I want to take those away. Moving forward we have the ability to access them when needed,” said Miller.

Brown says access to the board is one of the big things for those seniors who pay rent and is pleased to know the new board will be communicative and receptive to their concerns moving forward.

“This new board is making it known residents will have access. There is a process, but they will be able to get on agendas and take concerns to the board, which is really a positive change,” Brown said.  

Miller was told about a senior resident who died recently from injuries sustained from a fall getting out of the bathtub in one of the rental units and says she is hoping to do some renovations.

“A lot of these assets are aging, so they need some work to them. So we’re hoping to spruce them up and make them more accessible for those who live there,” said Miller. 

She also pointed out  because facilities such as Knox Manor and Fellowship Village are not owned by LRHG, they can only do their best to forward requests and proposals for improvements to the Alberta Ministry of Seniors, Community and Social Services.

Brown says independent living is an oxymoron, noting when it comes to seniors, they need help with all kinds of services including snow clearing from entrances and sidewalks mentioned at the meeting.

“If the government wants to keep people in their homes longer, then there has to be better supports for seniors in their homes,” he said.

Miller says she plans to attend the seniors’ meetings once a month and notes what stood out in her first meeting was the engagement that went on.

“I love how passionate this group is and how engaged they are in making the community better,” she said.

“This was really eye-opening in a positive way for me. I really appreciated the feedback, the engagement and the commonality of making things better.”

Miller says the new board and her appointment are indicators of the seniors housing and continuing care industry going through a lot of change.

“We’re hearing it federally, provincially and locally everything about keeping people healthy, keeping them at home and being in the right place at the right time with the right supports,” she said.

Miller says her first few weeks on the job have been great for herself and her family at their homestead in Kitscoty. 

She previously commuted to Edmonton where she worked as the chief operating officer for Connecting Care and was a former manager at Points West Living in Lloydminster and an Alberta Health Services home care worker in Vermilion and Kitscoty.

“It’s so good to be back in my local community the commute to Edmonton was long and challenging for my family, so being able to be back is a pleasure,” said Miller.