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Life at Canterbury is very “homey” & comfortable.   There are varied activities available, wonderful dining options, good friendships and efficient and kind staff.

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Canterbury Redevelopment: Research, Design and Meaningful Change for Dementia Care

Frustration, anger and deterioration, too often the symptoms of those suffering with dementia. It’s a painful road for families as they watch their loved ones spirit fade, a feeling all too familiar for Carol Brown. Carol’s mother Willa came to live at Canterbury five years ago, when she was welcomed in as a resident of Canterbury Lane, the foundation’s 20 suite wing that offers secure and supportive care for residents with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s or Dementia. It’s an area that will see a major upgrade as redevelopment efforts move forward.

Canterbury Foundation broke ground on their $31.5-million renovation and expansion project on June 27, 2019. The project includes a brand new 5 story addition growing the dementia care program from 20 to 53 much needed spaces, a 16 bed residential hospice for end-of-life care as well as the redevelopment of common spaces to expand programming and activities for all residents. 

“The idea of having a barrier-free loop they can walk I think will be really useful,” says Carol “and the addition of palliative care to promote aging in place will also be important.”  It’s a welcome change for Carol and one that will be heavily influenced by findings of an extensive research study led by Dr. Megan Strickfaden out of the University of Alberta. Designer, Researcher and Human Ecologist Lara Pinchbeck has already been working on the ground at Canterbury as part of Dr. Strickfaden's team. They hope to provide insight and influence on design that will change the lives of seniors living with dementia. “Canterbury is a unique opportunity because they are really dedicated to making an environment and running a facility that feels like as much of home as possible for the residents.” 

“Our team has come into this with 8 years experience of really thorough anthropological understanding of what the experiences are of the folks who are living in these spaces and what the experiences are of the staff working in these spaces,” says Pinchbeck. “We go in and do a very slow and deliberate exploration of what’s happening and that includes moving into the facility and being a resident, to be able to understand the rhythms, patterns and nuances of the cycles.”  

Design elements like a functioning coffee shop and a secure outdoor courtyard that can be  accessed without staff help are all part of a new and evolving strategy to improve dementia care. Not only is the research impacting overall design, it will also influence the perspective staff take on programming and activities for the residents,  “If in the springtime a typical thing for somebody to do would be to repair their lawnmower before they go to cut the grass, then we can make a lawn mower available to them with some wrenches and let them tinker.”

The changes can’t come soon enough for an aging population now coming into care later in life “It is now the 90+ year old who is coming to Canterbury,” says Wendy King, the Executive Director of Canterbury Foundation. “There are several residents who are living with a form of dementia. We need a space where they feel comfortable and at home, yet in a more controlled environment. Our goal is to develop and expand our dementia program to make a difference in residents’ lives and the lives of their families so we can deliver the promise of home.”

It’s a welcome step in the right direction for a facility always committed to providing the best quality of care for Seniors in Edmonton. “I can’t say enough about the staff they are so amazing, they are so kind, they try so many ways to encourage [my mom],” says Carol, “I think there’s just something unique about Canterbury - it’s excellence.” 

To find out more about the redevelopment click here.