By Mark Stachiew ©2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
“I feel like I’m living in a five-star hotel,” said Jane Grant, 79, who moved in with her husband in December. “It really feels like that, but it’s my home now.”
VIVA Barrhaven has 145 suites with floor-to-ceiling windows, ranging in size from studio to two-bedroom apartments, and offers an all-inclusive lifestyle with three daily meals. There is weekly housekeeping, a full activity calendar, a shuttle bus to enable community members to get out and around town, a gym, a café, a movie theatre, a saltwater pool and even a golf simulator which is the first one of its kind at any retirement community in Canada.
“This is really meant to be a place that is vibrant,” said Chelsea Ramsay, the community relations manager at VIVA Barrhaven. “It’s encouraging people to get out to do things. There is tons of natural light and really nice finishes. A lot of folks come in and say this really feels like a cruise ship. The main difference is that this is their home so we put a lot of emphasis on the quality of the people we hire because we know the better quality that our team is, the better care that is going to be delivered to our community members.”
VIVA Retirement Communities is Canadian-owned and operated and manages retirement communities in several locations in Ontario. Ramsay says that they learn from each one and incorporate best practices learned with each new construction. VIVA Barrhaven is their newest location, having opened in May 2016. She says that one of their goals is to minimize the isolation that some older adults can feel when living in a new community.
“We’ve put more emphasis on our amenities that encourage social interaction so our Perks Café is the central hub of the retirement community,” she said. “It really encourages people to spend time with one another and meet new people; new neighbours as well as friends from outside the community. We encourage a lot of interaction with local organizations and groups.”
Community resident Grant has discovered that for herself. “I like what VIVA does,” she said. “They’re different from most retirement homes. There’s a purpose for living here. You’re not just all by yourself. You can interact with other people. There are places to go. You’re not stuck in your room. There’s always somebody to talk to. You can go down and have a cup of coffee or tea with someone who’s sitting there. They want to talk to you too. It’s a nice way of living.”
On top of the extensive list of lifestyle amenities and services available to community members, Ramsay says that VIVA Barrhaven has another element that makes it unique.
“We’ve put in VIVA Barrhaven a children’s daycare which is open to the community,” she said. “What this is meant to do is encourage intergenerational interaction and programming. Our team members work with the children’s daycare staff to develop programming and spend time with the kids who attend the daycare, which is really great. A lot of people get to a certain age and perhaps don’t have access to kids, perhaps because their own grandchildren are a little older and starting a life of their own. This is a nice way for people, no matter how old they are, to interact with other generations.”
Some of the reasons that Barrhaven was chosen for this new retirement community was its central location with ready access to shopping and services along nearby Strandherd Drive, but also its proximity to the highway, train station and airport. It’s also easily accessible from neighbouring communities like Stittsville and Manotick.
As we age, health becomes an issue and VIVA Retirement Communities is equipped to help its members with any medical problems they face.
“We have a dedicated assisted living floor where we are able to help folks age in place so there’s no need for them to move out if they face some health challenges,” said Ramsay. “We have a wellness team, including a nurse, and we have a doctor on site who visits once a week so we’re able to address any of those health challenges.”
Grant’s husband needs a walker to get around and she appreciates the help the wellness team gives them. Mobility issues and the inability to maintain their Kanata home of 50 years was one of the primary reasons they relocated to VIVA Barrhaven.
“It wasn’t a hard decision to move because I thought it was the right thing to do,” she said. “I don’t feel sad. I have happy memories there, but I feel we’ve made the right decision and I feel quite comfortable driving away and coming over to Barrhaven. I feel this is my home now and am very pleased with it.”
For more information visit https://www.vivalife.ca/communities/ottawa/barrhaven or call 613-823- 0220.
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