A longtime Sylvan Lake resident’s vision of providing shelter and care for people suffering with developmental disabilities or mental illness is moving closer to reality.
Robert McFadden, who works for Canadian Mental Health at the Buffalo Hotel (a housing development for homeless individuals with mental health and/or addictions in Red Deer), wants to open an assisted living facility in Sylvan Lake. He is hopeful the project will be operational by September.
“It is very much in the preliminary stages,” he said, “but I have full confidence this is going to fly.”
There is a need in Sylvan Lake for such a facility, McFadden said.
“Actually, the need is evident everywhere. I don’t think Sylvan is different from any other place.”
McFadden, who owns Forrest Services, is working with Robert Van Rumpt from Red Deer to set up the housing facility.
“We are currently negotiating with PDD (Persons With Developmental Disabilities) to contract services to the community of Sylvan Lake,” he said.
A provincial government program provides funding for staff supports for adult Albertans with developmental disabilities. The program works with others to support adults with developmental disabilities to be included in community life and be as independent as possible.
McFadden plans to purchase a duplex near downtown and house three clients in each unit. The premises are to be staffed 24 hours a day seven days a week.
McFadden said he finds working with people who are suffering from some form of mental illness, developmental disability or addiction, rewarding and challenging.
“I have worked at the Buffalo for five years and before that I worked with young offenders and was an employment counsellor. I enjoy working in this field. The residents (at the Buffalo) feel quite comfortable with me and I with them.”
He said the fact that he has kept his job at the Buffalo for five years has helped him retain a good rapport with the people who live there.
“The fact that I have lasted so long shows that I care. They open up to me because they know that I will be there tomorrow.”
At Monday night’s council meeting, Van Rumpt told councillors they have purchased a duplex at 4910 47th Avenue “with the intention of starting a home with rehabilitative services for people with developmental disabilities”.
The intention is to have three residents in each of the two duplex units. The 24-7 operation will be for people in need of close supervision in regards to personal care, to cook, clean and be part of society, he said.
These are high needs people who will always have attendants with them.
“We are looking forward to offering a better quality of life and at the same time realizing their limitations.”
by Treena Mielke & Steve Dills