Focus groups collect feedback for new affordable seniors housing co-op

LONDON: A focus group is being milked to discover how a plan for a new affordable seniors housing co-op should be rolled.

A new board formed to bring affordable housing for seniors to Clarenville recently held a series of focus groups to find out what accommodations would best suit area seniors.

In February of 2015, the initiative received a $20,000 grant to develop a plan for seniors in the region.

Bob Gammon, chairman of the elder care housing co-op committee, says they decided to use the money on focus groups to find what specific types of housing would best suit the elderly.

“Our initial target audience is seniors or people nearing that age. We tried to get their input as to what they would see as their desires and wishes in senior’s housing,” Gammon said.

Gammon says the three basic types of housing models in Clarenville are rental units, Senior’s homes like on Legion Lane and the O’Mahony center.

“But we just want to make sure there isn’t a different or better way. We want to really ask people – if you were to go into a seniors home, or leave your own home, what are the services you would be looking for?” Gammon explained.

Gammon says there are a lot of models used outside of Clarenville where a resident can stay on the same property and as their mobility lessens, their services change.

“You stay in the same building or property. We just want to get some direct input as to what they see as their ideal situation and plan accordingly,” Gammon said.

Gammon says everyone agrees there is a demand for affordable housing, but he wants to get a complete picture on what is needed.

“Take a man for example. When he leaves his home, one of the things he’s leaving behind is his shed. So how does he see going from his home, to going into a place where he loses those things that are important to him,” said Gammon.

Gammon says the focus groups met with over 40 seniors with a good mix of ages and economic backgrounds.

“One of the things that came out of the focus groups was the desire to have a social interaction with the other residents. Particularly with the seniors who might be relocating into Clarenville, they don’t have any concerns about relocation as long as they have a way in which they can socialize, because they can make friends quickly,” says Gammon.

The initiative has been receiving support from multiple local groups such as the College of the North Atlantic, Clarenville Rotary, Lion’s Club and Twin Town’s Seniors Group.

After collecting the data and completing a report, Gammon says they will be going to the design stage and making a move to acquire some land.

“When you’re going to make a step like this and build something, we want to make sure it’s done properly and it is going to meet more than just a single need,” said Gammon.