Bethany Group hired for Rimoka

By George Brown

The Bethany Care Group has been selected to manage senior citizens’ housing in Rimbey and Ponoka.

At its recent board meeting in Rimbey, directors of the Rimoka Housing Foundation met to short-list candidates to replace Gerry Hildebrand who resigned earlier this year. In the end they decided to contract management of their residences with the operator of seniors’ homes in the Battle River region.

Rimoka chairman Joe Anglin said the board will negotiate a one-year deal with the Bethany Care Group. If the parties are satisfied with the relationship, a new contract with a longer term would be drawn up next year.

According to their website, “The Bethany Group is a faith-based organization that operates a wide range of homes and services for older, disabled and vulnerable people, with varying levels of health care and hospitality services in Camrose, Wetaskiwin, Bashaw, Millet (and) Winfield.”

“It gives us an opportunity to tap into their resources, (and) we know they have great reputation within the ministry of housing,” Anglin said.

Conditions Rimoka will insist on in the contract include Bethany Care Group keeping current employees, and agreeing to continue using community FCSS services for the next year.

“The staff’s going to remain the same,” Anglin said. “What’s going to happen is our staff is going to have better support and better access to resources and that’s important.” For example, Anglin explained if a boiler broke down at a seniors’ residence, the local maintenance man might have to wait a day or so to get additional servicemen in to fix it, whereas with the Bethany Care Group, support staff from other properties could be brought in to help out.

Anglin said the contract with the Bethany care Group should cost less than hiring a single manager. “You don’t have to pay the Bethany Group benefits, it’s a straight up and down fee. It was quite reasonable. This is a good thing for the housing foundation.

“The board is still in charge,” Anglin explained. “We work off the same budget, we’ll meet on a regular basis and work with the Bethany people. When they report to us it’s jus t like a normal CAO.”

Service to residents should be as good or better with the Bethany Care Group, he added. “That’s crucial because we’re dealing with the quality of life of our seniors.”

Before its meeting in Rimbey, the board convened at Parkland Manor to hear concerns from residents in their care. Most of their concerns centred on the need for better accommodations and covered parking lot.

With the Bethany Care Group’s experience building and managing seniors’ care residences, Anglin said it might be easier for a new centre to be built in Rimbey.

“It does give us a leg up on trying to expand or build a new facility in Rimbey.”

“We need assisted living facilities because it’s one of the services we don’t have,” Anglin said. “We have people taking up hospital beds because we don’t have assisted living.”

The design of Rimoka’s older buildings doesn’t meet today’s specifications and needs to be upgraded or replaced. “We have aging facilities that are high maintenance,” he said.

Once a contract with Bethany Care Group has been signed, Anglin wants to set a timetable for discussion to plan a new care centre. He wants information before the board by October to help decide whether planning for a new residence can begin within two years.