Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORC)

Originally posted

Many of us have questions/concerns about where we will live, when we are no longer able to remain in our homes and this seems to be a topic discussed regularly. I am sure over the holidays there were many similar sounding conversations had with friends either talking about their parent(s) or in planning for themselves.Most times the conversation is triggered following the death of a spouse or an admission into hospital with the realization that a return home, may not be possible.

But what about for those healthy seniors who want to remain living in their own homes but require something more. The ‘something more’ might include:
– Socialization and someone knowing if you are dead or alive
– Getting help changing a light bulb or challenges turning off the remote (yes I admit, having 3 remotes is confusing)
– Sharing a meal
– Remain in charge.

You may recall that I previously blogged on the UK having a Minister for Loneliness, so it comes as no surprise that the Public Health Agency of Canada reported that “people with adequate social relationships are at a 50% lower risk of death than those with poor or insufficient social relationships. As a risk factor for mortality, social isolation exceeds obesity and physical inactivity.” Welcome to the OASIS model that developed organically in a Kingston Ontario apartment building and is being started in a mid town Toronto apartment building.

Christine McMillan is the driving force and OASIS came to be because of her determination and hard work as well as support from community partnerships (the South East Local Health Integration Network or SELHIN) and Trillium Foundation grants. Oasis is also working with UHN OpenLab. OpenLab describes themselves as ‘a design and innovation shop dedicated to finding creative solutions that transform the way health care is delivered and experienced.’

Oasis is truly a supportive living program created for the seniors and designed by the seniors. Government monies provided for the hiring of 24/7 PSW support (which complemented what the LHIN was already providing) and other services, including exercise programs, organized social programs and entertainment. Of interest as well was that many Oasis members who were eligible for long term care chose to defer this move- which provided substantial financial savings to the LHIN and our health care system.

The apartment owners provided the party room- which became a lounge and a separate dining area so this provided space for subsidized meals to be brought in three times a week.
It seems that what was naturally occurring in Kingston is having more of a challenge in getting the required support in Toronto.


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