The Drumheller and District Seniors Foundation has some important decisions to make in the next year or two.
"We're seeing more seniors come to us beyond our level of care because they've stayed in their homes for longer and we're also seeing a growing number of seniors wanting independent living where they don't want to maintain their house anymore," noted Chief Administrative Officer Jenny Krystoff. "Our feasability or demand study showed the growth over the next 10-15 years is a growth in independent living and a growth in the higher levels of care."
Right now, the Foundation can handle Level 3 care, which is what residents of the Sunshine and Hillview Lodges enjoy, but there is no Level 4 assisted living space, so seniors with more needs must leave the community or go into long term care at the hospital.
On top of that, about a dozen rooms at the Sunshine Lodge are unrented because they are too small and don't have their own bathrooms.
"The biggest thing is determining the life cycle of the building," explained Krystoff. "We don't want to continue throwing money at an old building that might require too much money, but at the same time we are looking at possibilities of renovation."
"One surprizing statistic that ASCHA (Alberta Seniors Communities & Housing Association) enlightened us about was the fact that from the (provincial) budget perspective, seniors are really only allocated about 1.1 per cent of the 2018 budget, yet they comprise about 25 per cent of the population," she noted.
Krystoff has heard that more government money for seniors housing could be coming in a year or so, but she doesn't have specifics.