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New Grande Spirit facility brings dementia care to Spirit River: Dine and dance raises more than $450,000

May 23, 2024

By: Austin Payeur, Community Reporter

A $34.5 million assisted living facility will bring dementia care to Spirit River when it opens next month. 

The three-story building will include 92 units: 40 for supportive living and 52 designated for continuing care, half of which will be dedicated to residents with dementia, said Grande Spirit Foundation chief administrative officer (CAO) Steve Madden.

The Town of Spirit River will be celebrating its official opening June 1. 

This is the new Pleasant View Lodge, offering lodge and continuing care for seniors.

It replaces a facility of the same name, which was constructed in 1960.

“A needs assessment was done in 2016 or 2017, and … it was definitely determined that there was a need for that type of facility in our community,” said Town of Spirit River Mayor Tammy Yaremko.

She said the original Pleasant View Lodge contained 40 units and “it was getting older.”

Yaremko said the addition of dementia care is one of the biggest benefits of the new facility.

“If your parents or grandparents have dementia, they have to be cared for elsewhere,” she said.

“So if you’ve got an aging set of grandparents or parents, maybe dad stays here because mom needs to live somewhere else for dementia care. So this is a pretty big way to be able to have mom and dad under the same roof.”

Work started on the new facility in 2017 by the G5 municipalities: Town of Spirit River, Saddle Hills County, MD of Spirit River, Village of Rycroft and Birch Hills County.

In 2018 the Grande Spirit Foundation provided a business plan submission to the province to fund the project which received approval in 2019.

“The need for this facility is high and will support waitlists for the various levels of care that this

building has to offer,” said Madden.

The province provided all of the funding for construction, which started in April of 2022 and finished this March, said Madden.

“The greatest benefit includes the ability to stay in the community through age progression with the health system providing support as needs for a person change,” Madden said.

“This keeps families closer together and reduces traveling stressors.”

Madden described the community’s support of the development as “overwhelmingly positive,” including an April 20 dine and dance held in Rycroft which raised more than $450,000 for the facility.

The fundraiser is an annual event hosted by the Rycroft Agricultural Society along with Solutions Services and NAR Environmental.

“Every year they choose a different recipient, and this year the Grande Spirit Foundation and Pleasant View Lodge was chosen,” Yaremko said.

She said the community came out in force to support it; last year’s recipient, the palliative care unit based in the Spirit River Hospital, received approximately $175,000 from the annual dine and dance.

“I think they had about 350 people last year,” she said.

“This year they had seating for 500 and a lot of the fundraising and silent auction items were ramped up as well.”

In addition to a silent auction, the naming rights of nine rooms in the new lodge were also auctioned off during the fundraiser.

Madden described it as a “fairly significant undertaking for the community.”

“There are new upgrades here that are really going to help us now with updated systems that are going to help the quality of life for everyone,” Madden said.

“It’s a need that was not being met before,” Yaremko said.

“It’s a pretty big deal to have that building built by the province and the federal government and handed over to Grande Spirit Foundation.

“That is such a huge plus for the G5 because this is where most of the farmers and those that live out rural areas want to kind of stay.”

The building will be open on June 1 between 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. for tours and a free barbecue lunch.

The date of the town’s annual summer event, originally called the June Jamboree and then Chepi Sepe Days and finally Spirit Days, has been moved from June 8 to June 1 to coincide with the opening.

“Just before Christmas, Grande Spirit came to us and said they would be having their grand opening for the Pleasant View Lodge on June 1, because that Saturday kicks off Seniors Week,” Yaremko said.

“It was a big decision for us, but we realized that having this new facility in town is a pretty big deal. 

“One, it’s a big deal for our residents, and from the Town of Spirit River’s perspective, there’s some economic development by having this new facility in town too.

“So we decided based on those reasons that we would move Spirit Days to (June 1).”

Construction on the new Pleasant View Lodge in Spirit River began in 2022. The doors will open on June 1. (Photo by William Vavrek)