Planning under way for new, multi-million-dollar Dundas Manor; fewer residents per room among the benefits

Courtesy photo shows Dundas Manor.

WINCHESTER — Construction of a new and modern Winchester nursing home to replace Dundas Manor is still a few years off, but planning has begun in earnest for the multi-million-dollar project.

The Manor’s non-profit owner, Rural Healthcare Innovations (RHI), recently gave residents, family and staff an advance look at “early plans” for a brand new home.

“It’s very, very early days…. We want their feedback from the beginning and all the way through this multi-year process,” Administrator Norm Slatter said in an RHI press release. 

Built at a time when the province required half as much space per resident as mandated today, replacement of the existing 98-bed nursing home at the end of Clarence Street has been on Winchester District Memorial Hospital’s radar for years. RHI — a separate entity set up by the hospital — purchased Dundas Manor from a private owner in 2012.

Permission to build a new home has been sought from Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The planning and approval stage could take up to three years before a shovel hits the ground. Actual construction is then expected to take up to two years following the province’s green light.   

RHI has yet to publicly estimate a price and final number of beds for the proposed facility. “We are in the middle of an extensive planning process so can’t speculate on the final cost just yet,” reported Dundas Manor’s communications lead, Jane Adams, in an email. Adams similarly refrained from providing a final intended bed count at this time.

However, if the new Dundas Manor has at least as many beds as the old one 98 that may put the ballpark construction cost in the $20-million range, based on a nearly $200,000-per-bed average recently seen in the Ontario industry.

“The average, as we have seen thus far, and it is really a very small sample of homes, is closer to $200K per bed,” Adrian Kupesic, Director of Public Affairs & Governance for the Ontario Long Term Care Association told Nation Valley News in an email. But Kupesic also cautioned  it’s “hard to draw an apples to apples comparison,” noting, “every municipality and region of the province is different – for example what it costs to build in Toronto will be different in Hamilton, same goes for Thunder Bay. The availability and cost of land is one of the big impacts, as well as access to labour, whether or not there are development charges being included, what types of materials are being used …”

Kupesic acknowledged that long-term care homes built today require almost double the square footage per resident compared to those meeting the previous design standards set  in 1973.

Residents wouldn’t be housed four to a room in a new Dundas Manor, Adams confirmed, although the breakdown of single and double rooms isn’t known yet.

Also featuring larger windows to go along with the extra space, the proposed facility is touted as better addressing today’s long-term care requirements. “Our residents have greater individualized needs and our focus remains on resident-directed care,” said the Manor’s Director of Care, Susan Poirier.

A number of upgrades have been undertaken at the current facility in the meantime, including a new secure outdoor garden, a new roof, expanded parking lot, and new furniture for several areas.

“We’ve done everything from our perspective and now we await the Ministry’s go ahead,” said Slatter. “We are excited to be planning a new home while still retaining the cozy, country home feel that Dundas Manor is known for. Our residents deserve nothing less.”

Barry Hobin Architects shared preliminary project drawings at recent meetings. Among others, the team includes a gerontologist with expertise in senior-friendly planning. Dundas Manor is sharing expertise and costs with The Grove Long-Term Care Home in Arnprior.

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