The Northwest Territories government has approved the construction of a long-term care facility in Norman Wells.
The $40 million building should be complete by the summer of 2016. It will have 18 beds, a doctor and a wellness centre.
That means people from across the Sahtu region will be able to see a doctor and get 24-hour nursing care, and some elders will be able to move closer to home and family.
Dora Lafferty is from Fort Good Hope.
“We used to be out in the bush all winter sometimes,” she recalls. “Oh, I used to have lots of fun.”
'We’ll be close by.' - Florence Barnaby, sister
Lafferty has been at the Aven Cottages dementia facility in Yellowknife for the past two years.
Without access to 24-hour care, it wasn’t safe for her to remain in Fort Good Hope.
Her sister, Florence Barnaby, says Lafferty is in good hands in Yellowknife, but there's nothing like being close to family.
“We’ll be close by,” says Barnaby. “We can drive there, visit her, take her home for the weekend.”
Training coming for local people
The CEO of the Aven facilities in Yellowknife, Jeff Renaud, says he’s worried about some aspects of the new long-term care facility.
"How do you staff an 18-bed facility in a very remote community like Norman Wells?” Renaud asks. “It's a huge concern.
“We already know we have difficulty getting people to come to the North. There's even more difficulty in getting people to come to places outside of Yellowknife.”
Sahtu MLA Norman Yakeleya says the solution will be to train, and hire, local people to work in the centre.
“There's excitement because there’s going to be new career opportunities for high school students, and students who are just finishing school now can have the opportunity to work within the facility,” he says.
Yakeleya lobbied for the seniors' home for eight years.
Aurora College is designing programs to get people from the Sahtu region trained for jobs at new centre.