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Greater independence for Salem residents

By Ashleigh Viveiros

The Winkler Morden Voice (Thursday, December 22, 2016)

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Salem Home cut the ribbon on their brand new entrance last week, ushering in a new era of accessibility and independence for their residents.

The Winkler personal care home transformed its front entrance this fall, installing a new door that opens automatically as someone approaches, a sloping ramp for better wheelchair accessibility, sidewalk access that allows entry without having to cross the driveway, and a much larger foyer area.

The project has been getting rave reviews from residents and visitors alike since the doors first opened in October.

“I don’t think I’ve seen a project that has brought so many smiles,” said Salem Foundation special projects assistant Nancy Wiebe.

Residents who previously struggled to navigate the old entrance have delighted in being able to more easily wheel themselves outside to enjoy the day.

“We knew it was difficult getting out of the old doors, but you don’t know how difficult, you don’t even appreciate it until you actually see them use these doors,” said Salem CEO Sherry Janzen.

Inside, residents have been pulling their wheelchairs into the foyer to watch for friends and family members or enjoy the sunlight pouring in through the large windows.

“It’s so much more than just an entrance,” said Wiebe.

This approximately $380,000 project has only been possible thanks to the generosity of the many local businesses, churches, and individuals who donated financially or in-kind to make it happen.

“We just live in a great community as far as support … it just shows that they are,” said Salem Foundation board chair Arlen Hildebrand.  “People saw a need.”

“The community has been very, very generous,” agreed Janzen.  “Individuals and the business community especially have been very supportive of this project, I guess, because it benefits all the residents and families.”

Approximately $80,000 still needs to be raised to cover the costs of the renovations, but Hildebrand is optimistic they’ll get there.

If friends or families of Salem residents are stumped on what to get them for Christmas, the foundation hopes they’ll consider a donation to Salem Home.

“This is a wonderful, wonderful way to give them a gift for their home which is just breaking down a barrier,” said Wiebe.

Donations can be made by contacting Salem Home or the Salem Foundation.

EXPANSION IN THE WORKS

Projects like the new entrance help make Salem Home a more inviting place for its residents, but they don’t address the very real need for more beds.

On that front, the care home’s board is in early talks with the provincial government about getting the ball rolling on a 60-bed expansion.

“We’re in the very early, preliminary stages of putting together a plan for Manitoba Health for additional beds,” said Janzen. “We have lots to sort out still … but that’s our next major project.”

The care home currently has 146 beds. Their last expansion added 20 beds back in 2001.

Since that expansion, the community has grown exponentially, as has the demand for Salem’s services.

At any given time, the care home has a waiting list of well over 80 people, and that number’s only going to increase.

“If we don’t do anything starting now, by the year 2035 we’ll be short 90 beds,” Janzen said. “So we need to ensure we are keeping pace with what the needs are in the community.”

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