If you ask John Carr how much has changed in the 30 years he’s worked at Providence Manor (Providence Care’s long-term care home), he’s likely to tell you what has stayed the same. “We do everything for the resident, because of the resident and we make it about the resident,” John says, quoting Sister Margaret Haughian (Administrator, 1971 – 1991) a visionary Kingstonian who was ahead of her time in pioneering a resident-centred approach to long-term care.
At Providence Manor, this resident focus is deeply rooted in a culture of caring for seniors dating back to 1861.
As a porter at Providence Manor, this genuine heart for care is what drives John Carr’s interactions with residents every day and it’s what he remembers most when he thinks of his own mother’s stay in the home. “She was nervous and scared, at first,” he says, “but the staff helped her settle in. They treated her like she was family.”
These days, John walks the halls of Providence Manor talking with residents and helping to transport them to and from their appointments and social activities. Providence Manor is a bustling place—and his sights are set on the future and how a revitalized home holds the potential to go from special to spectacular.
He is excited about the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation’s (UHKF) recent announcement of leadership gifts by Britton Smith and the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul toward the fundraising goal to support the rebuild of Providence Manor by Providence Care. Early estimates indicate that the community will need to raise an additional $5 to 10 million to make the expanded new home—from 243 beds to 320, pending government approval—the kind of inviting environment found in the current facility.
Providence Manor will be part of Providence Village, situated on the park-like, historical Heathfield site owned by the Sisters. The Village will be a community hub that brings together long-term care, residential hospice, community health and wellness services, and affordable housing.
Like many staff in long-term care, John has watched the care needs of residents change over the past few decades. People are older and have more complex chronic health conditions. At Providence Manor, about 86 per cent of residents have some level of dementia or cognitive impairment.
John’s hope for Providence Manor is that residents will have a modern, comfortable home that better meets their needs: fewer heating and cooling issues, larger rooms with wider doorways, better lifts and ease of access to green spaces.
John is quick to remind people that the heart of Providence Manor is the people, not the building. The current site has no pathway to redevelopment. It faces insurmountable challenges including multiple layers of older architecture and a limiting downtown footprint.
The redevelopment of Providence Manor is expected to take place over the next two to six years. No matter the timeline, John is excited about the future, unafraid of the changes ahead. One of his many axioms, yet another from Sister Margaret, is “[The residents] can’t change but you can.”
It places the challenge of increasing caregiving needs on the shoulders of a caring community. A fitting call to action, perhaps, as the next chapter in the story of Providence Manor is set to be written.