Ceremony Launches New Muskoka Housing Community For Older Adults

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The Alexander Muskoka Residence to grace the shores of Lake Muskoka

On May 5, at 520 Isaac Street, Gravenhurst, a ground-breaking ceremony was held to mark the start of construction on a new retirement home that will overlook the Muskoka Wharf. The Alexander Muskoka Residence, scheduled to open in early 2024, will comprise three storeys and 75,000 square feet of living space and offers distinct neighbourhoods tailored to individual care needs, including Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Memory Care. The residence is designed to serve older adults who may have mobility and cognitive impairments resulting from the normal aging process, or from illnesses such as dementia.

“After years of planning, we are very excited to see the project reach this momentous stage,” said Leonard Ojha, who, with partner Marie Ojha, developed the idea for the community residence and leads the Alexander management team.

The Building

The design of the Alexander Muskoka Residence reflects today’s most pressing concerns with its attention to sustainability, human dignity, and infection control. It will far exceed the required guidelines for energy efficiency and is, in fact, designed and energy-modelled using Passive House design principles. Its age-in-place model allows for residents to move within the community’s neighbourhoods if their level of care needs change. Funding from the National Housing Co-Investment Fund and the District of Muskoka has enabled 30 of the residence’s 95 units to have affordable rents. Six units will be reserved for staff use in case of an infection-control event or for convenience of overnight stays during inclement weather. The design also incorporates the wisdom gained from the COVID-19 pandemic, evidenced in wider hallways and amenity spaces to allow for physical distancing, individual suites only (i.e., no ward rooms), and an advanced HVAC system that will continuously bring fresh, filtered air into the building.

Recruiting the Team

Now that the shovels have hit the ground, the next priority for the management team will be to recruit a team of employees. “First and foremost, our focus will be on hiring good people,” says Marie. “We’ll commit to helping them maximize their potential for leadership within the organization. We’ll respect them, provide fair wages and benefits, and a safe work environment, because they deserve nothing less, and because we believe the care and respect we show for our employees, they will in turn show our residents.” Because of the nature of the care provided at the Alexander Muskoka Residence, employees will fill a range of roles in hospitality services, such as kitchen staff and concierges, and in healthcare provision, such as nurses and PSWs. “We’re intrigued to talk to people who may have decided over the course of the pandemic to shift their career focus from whatever they were doing before to something more impactful. I am open to speaking with anyone who would like to work at The Alexander, ” explains Leonard.

Guided by Experience

Leonard and Marie each have an extensive background in healthcare—Leonard as a former nurse who moved on to developing and managing larger programs in acute care settings including St. Michael’s Hospital, and Marie as a nurse and then nurse practitioner focused on geriatric and palliative care. In addition, the Alexander Group is comprised of individuals who bring to the table an extraordinary depth of experience in business, acute care, management, design, and senior health care. Their shared goal is to promote quality of life, empowerment, and active engagement to their residents and to provide the highest standard in seniors housing and care.

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