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$14 million for dementia centre

Dorothy Westerman
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (July 27/05) - Construction of a new $14 million home in Yellowknife for dementia patients will begin by late 2006 or early 2007.

The home is a project of the Yellowknife Association of Concerned Citizens for Seniors.

Al Falconer, chair of the association, said the facility will be connected to Aven Manor.

It will house 24 residents in two pods of 12 and be financed by the territorial government, Falconer said.

Eventually, the association wants to build a 32-unit subsidized condominium complex on the property as well, he said.

"It was very well designed," Falconer said of the dementia facility.

A recent letter from the Health department to the association reconfirmed the territorial government's commitment to the project.

The association has been working towards construction of a dementia facility for at least 20 years.

"We've been seeing a growing incidence of Alzheimer's and related dementia within our senior's population in Yellowknife and the territories," Falconer said.

Canadian statistics show that 80 per cent of the population will as some point develop Alzheimer's, he noted.

Aven Manor isn't designed to offer the type of care dementia patients need.

"Such a facility should follow a philosophy of care, not just a warehousing approach to people," he said.

An imbalance exists between the population in Yellowknife and the rest of the territories when it comes to long-term care bed availability, he said.

In Hay River, Fort Simpson and Fort Smith there is a surplus, while Yellowknife has deficit, he said.

Falconer said the association has been in discussion with the government over the past four years about the need for a dementia centre.

"This is an ongoing need and not one that is going to go away," he said.

The association is a non-profit, all volunteer organization which has existed since 1983.

It owns and operates Aven Manor, the Aven Court and the Baker Community Centre.