For close to 50 years, committed seniors in Sooke have dreamed of a place where elderly citizens can age in place. This dream came to fruition in stages, starting in 1968 when the newly-formed Sooke Elderly Citizens’ Housing Society (SECHS) purchased land at the end of Ayre Road and began building cottages to house local seniors. Over the years, 18 subsidized independent living cottages were built and in 2008 (once sewers were in place) Ayre Manor Lodge opened with 25 assisted living apartments and 32 residential complex care suites. The facility is full and provides an affordable place where senior citizens can age in place and in their own community.
It was through the hard word and dedication of those who believed such a facility was necessary in Sooke. When opened, Ayre Manor Lodge was operated and managed by Beckley Farm Lodge Society, to comply with government requirements. But having an outside body managing the lodge was never the intent of SECHS.
“It’s always been our plan,” said SECHS chair Sandy Pedneault, in referring to taking over the management of the lodge.
“We used to run the cottages ourselves,” said Pedneault, “and if they (Beckley) hadn’t taken it on as the operators we would never have got approvals from VIHA (Vancouver Island Health Authority). They stepped up to the bat and that’s wonderful.”
SECHS will be taking over complete responsibility for all operations at the Ayre Manor site, hopefully, by March, 2014. Staffing will remain the same and everything in that regard should be switched over to the new management by December 2013.
“We don’t see any other changes, it’s business as usual,” said Pedneault. “We will have more say and be the employer.”
An important step that needs to be taken is to establish financial resources that will be at their disposal to fund all of the services and programs as part of an ongoing commitment to agencies like BC Housing and VIHA. In addition, they need to meet other accountabilities such as their mortgage related requirements. The SECHS Board will be the ultimate authority on decisions around the business requirements.
Pedneault states that during periods of change like this there are always hiccups and rumors which can cause people to feel unsettled. She encourages individuals to check on the web site (www.ayremanor.ca) and also register concerns in writing so things can be quickly addressed.
Andrew Butler & Associates are working on the transition plan and working on budget scenarios. This could take until early November.
SECHS has a Development Permit in place to build 58 more units sometime in the future.