New residents thriving at expanded Village of Wentworth Heights
By Kristian Partington
To walk through the Village of Wentworth Heights on a Thursday morning with the sun shining outside and the frigid mid-December temperatures keeping everyone inside, it would be easy to forget that the new retirement neighbourhoods only began welcoming residents a few weeks before.
The village is a hive of activity. Team members buzz down the length of Main Street, stopping to greet the people they meet along the way as new residents and family members orient themselves to the surroundings. The first to move in are ambassadors now, as eager to welcome new arrivals as the team is, and as one wanders the street the conversations overheard suggest strangers aren’t far from becoming friends.
In the Town Hall, an audience is gathered for the annual Christmas concert performed by the choir from just down the street in the long-term care neighbourhoods. This is the culmination of months of rehearsals, led by Dr. Kaylan Subrahnanyan and recreation team member Evalyn Boekestein. The voices of two dozen people rise and carry the spirit of the season throughout the village, and the culmination of years of planning and construction rise as well.
This is what the village was always meant to be. People of various ages and abilities – some living independently in the retirement neighbourhoods and some needing a little more support in long-term care – coming together under one large roof.
Richard Mills, for one, couldn’t be happier.
He was one of the first residents in the new retirement suites – he made sure of that. When the ribbon was cut officially linking long-term care and retirement at the centre of Main Street, his hands held the scissors. Richard is quite familiar with the village. His wife, Mary, has lived in the long-term care neighbourhoods for little more than a year, but even before that he put his deposit in. Now he can see her whenever he likes and though her memory betrays her recollection of Richard at times, there’s comfort to be found simply in their time together. She knows he’s important and their love is no less real. This year they’ll spend Christmas together; to be this close, for Richard, is a gift.
“I’m so happy,” he says through his thick Latvian accent. “Here, this is not just an ordinary place, this is like a five-star resort, honestly. Everything is wonderful and the staff, oh my God, they go all over to please you.”
From his suite upstairs, Richard can see the Legion Hall down Upper Wentworth Street where he likes to spend time with fellow veterans playing games of dominoes for quarters. He mentions his daughter, Rita, noting that she isn’t far and she visits often. As if she heard her name from afar, Rita walks up behind her father as he walks along Main Street showing off the lounge where he likes to play pool. She’s on her way to an appointment in the Riverstone Spa, just across from the lounge and she smiles at the notion of the convenience of it all. She was dropping off the things Richard will need to care for her cat while she vacations in Florida, and afterwards she’ll get her nails done.
It certainly doesn’t feel like a typical retirement home, Richard says, and perhaps that’s why he so comfortable. As an ambassador for the village, he’s sure to continue helping others feel the same way, and he’s proud to do so.