Trout Creek Senior Living welcomes first client

The last six weeks have been a transition period for Larry Gauthier of Trout Creek.

Gauthier, who is 91, is the first person to move into the Trout Creek Senior Living home since it officially opened last fall in the Municipality of Powassan.

The home occupies the former Lady Isabelle Nursing Home building which the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care shutdown in 2017 over compliance issues.

But where Lady Isabelle served as a nursing home, Trout Creek Senior Living is currently an independent living centre while waiting for a temporary license approval from the Ministry of Long-Term Care and Ontario Health.

Belisha Ke, the Chief Operating Officer for Dynamic Health Management which oversees the home also recently submitted a retirement license with Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) and is currently going through the approval process.

Gauthier and his adult children were among the residents who toured the 49 bed facility during the official opening.

Gauthier had hoped that he and his 89-year-old wife Laura were going to be able to live together at Trout Creek Senior Living. However, those plans fell apart when Laura Gauthier's level of care changed resulting in her being hospitalized at the North Bay Regional Health Centre where she remains.

Ke says Trout Creek Senior Living is not licensed as a long-term care or retirement centre. Rather it serves people who remain independent but wish to be in a home-like setting with other seniors. Ke says because of this she has been forced to deny entry to 12 people whose level of care exceeds what Trout Creek Senior Living currently can offer.

In the case of Laura Gauthier, should her level of care change for the better, she might be able to join her husband. Besides Gauthier, Trout Creek Senior Living is home to two other residents, both women. Ke believes the home will have two more residents by the end of February taking the total to five.

Gauthier talked to his children about his living circumstances following the official opening and everyone agreed it was no longer a good idea that dad remain on his own. Consequently Gauthier moved to Trout Creek Senior Living two weeks before Christmas and said he hasn't looked back.

“It's been very good,” he told the Nugget.

The clients enjoy nutritious home-cooked meals, housekeeping and laundry services. There is also no shortage of activities for the residents who engage in a variety of games like Bingo and cards, and playing cards is a favourite of Gauthier's. Ke says there are also Montessori based activities to help the residents feel like they are in their own home These include residents participating in making their own meals like a pizza and home-baked cookies. They also engage in Origami art, music and movement. Montessori activities also include residents involved with collaborative puzzle solving and using fine motor skills to make stress balls.

Gauthier also has his own TV in his room and to help it feel a little more like home, hanging on one wall is a mounted deer head he shot during a hunting trip in 2001. Hunting and fishing have been a big part of Gauthier's life and he's hunted for 72 years. Gauthier keeps his mind active reading the newspaper and working on puzzles in addition to crossword puzzles. Gauthier has lived in Trout Creek all his life and describes himself as a jack-of-all trades. He's worked as a common labourer and on farms during his lifetime.

Among the work he did was serve as a school trustee for 14 years under the former East Parry Sound Board of Education and he was a Census taker. Gauthier has five children and three grandchildren all within 25 miles of his present home so he gets regular visits. And being a lifelong resident of Trout Creek he also sees many of his former friends and neighbours.

“That's been a comfort seeing all my old neighbours,” he said. “They don't have to travel far.”

And when people aren't visiting, he's on the phone talking to family and friends.

Gauthier remains mobile and sees his wife in North Bay regularly thanks to his children driving him to the hospital.

At 91, Gauthier is the oldest of the three current residents.

He has regular chats with the other two residents and the three are becoming fast friends and are known within the home as the Three Musketeers.

Gauthier admits it would be nicer if his wife could join him.

The couple married on June 9th, 1953 and will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary this year.

As Trout Creek Senior Living waits for more clients to arrive, Ke says Dynamic is waiting for approval from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care over a 96-bed nursing home it wants to build a short distance from the current home.

Ke says Dynamic has a Statement of Readiness before the Ministry and hopes it's approved soon so work on the nursing home can begin. As for the cost to live at Trout Creek Senior Living, depending on the type of room residents chose, the cost is under $3,000 a month.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget