Building community at Ayre Manor

Last spring, an outdoor courtyard Ayre Manor’s Complex Care wing had to be closed to residents for safety improvements. Up until then, residents with dementia had been enjoying the freedom of getting out into this enclosed courtyard during good weather.

Sooke Elderly Citizens’ Housing Society (SECHS) director Carol Mallett explains, “Residents with dementia always keep staff and volunteers on their toes. They occasionally revert to the joys of childhood and can get hurt.”

Having to close the garden meant residents who liked the freedom to stroll through the gardens of the courtyard were not allowed to go out un-escorted.

Neil Flynn, another SECHS director, proposed a solution. A former contractor from Alberta, Flynn is also a member of the Rotary Club of Sooke and was a driving force behind both the Ayre Manor Lodge project and the Rotary Pier. He drew up plans for a series of planters, benches and railings along the perimeter of the courtyard pathways, to both protect and beautify the space.

Flynn secured $5,000 in joint funding from the Rotary Club of Sooke and Rotary International (RI). Through a local grant, RI supports short-term humanitarian projects that benefit the community. These grants are a key tool for Rotary clubs to leverage their funds - effectively doubling the benefit of each dollar raised locally.

The planters and benches were built by Rotary volunteers in July, and installed with donations of time and materials from Champagne Ventures, CK Construction, the Sooke Developers Association and wood supplier, Ragley Farm.

Mallett reports the residents are now happy to be back in the garden. She emphasized the team effort in creating the gardens at Ayre Manor.

“The gardens have become a community project, involving all sorts of people: Rotary, Sooke Lions’ organizations, the Sooke Garden Club, the Ayre Manor staff, the District of Sooke, Ayre Manor volunteers and the residents themselves.”

The gardens and outdoor pathways are an important part of life at Ayre Manor, engaging and entertaining the residents who live there and bringing the vitality of the community into the facility.

“The Rotary Club of Sooke is proud to have been a part of this important and fulfilling project. Individuals and organizations working together can have a big impact on the lives of Sooke residents. That sense of accomplishment from a job well done is what being a Rotarian is all about,” said Flynn.

Rotary Club of Sooke

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