Valley Terrace, which sits atop a hill overlooking the western
end of St. Joseph Boulevard, certainly knows how to make
a good impression.
three-storey building, in muted shades of brown, is not
particularly noteworthy, until you spot the cornerstone
which reads “Holy Rosary Scholasticate 1930” and the initials
for the Oblates of Mary Immaculate engraved high above the
front door; both clues of the building’s origins as a seminary.
moment comes with the view from the spacious foyer into
the large chapel, where sunlight illuminates a beautiful
stained glass rose window and the three vertical stained
glass panels on either side.
original building was a one-storey seminary, built in 1930
by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, with two additional storeys
added in the early 50s and the spacious chapel added in
1955. As its role as a seminary began to diminish in the
early 60s, the Oblates sold part of the property to the
National Capital Commission to be part of the Greenbelt.
as a seminary until it was sold in 1974 and began its life
as a care facility; originally providing for chronic care
patients, then solely for dementia care, and now, renamed
Forest Valley Terrace, it is part of the Symphony Senior
Living community providing both assisted living and memory
recently and met with executive director Jessy Staniszewski
and community relations coordinator Glenese Francis-Wright.
Ottawa-native Staniszewski has been with Symphony Senior
Living since May 2018, starting as wellness coordinator
at Symphony Orléans before being appointed executive director
of Forest Valley Terrace in January. A registered practical
nurse, with nine years of experience in the field of retirement
living, he and his team are clearly doing something right
as recent mandatory inspections under the Retirement Homes
Regulation Authority had no findings of non-compliance.
have a great team now and so we are building occupancy,”
impression of Forest Valley Terrace goes far beyond its
bricks, mortar and stained glass. The newly renovated residence,
including large outdoor spaces, lives up to its promise
of being “home-like and comfortable” and its current management
team are passionate about their work.
chapel is the heart of the residence and is large enough
that communion and rosary can take place at the altar, while
residents participate in chair physio in the room’s centre.
Along each side are comfortable couches, which create intimate
spaces for visiting with family or engaging with other residents.
(You know it’s a multi-purpose space when you notice the
air hockey game tucked against the wall behind the alter!)
the entrance is the residence Bistro, which provides snacks
and all-important hydration therapy.
hydration is an ongoing issue with the older population,”
explains Staniszewski. “Many older adults do not like to
drink water and prefer caffeinated or sugar-filled options
like coffee, tea and juice.”
Valley Terrace they ensure that all residents receive healthy
fluids with all their meals and snacks.
its home-like atmosphere, a real effort has been made to
“de-institutionalize” the space – medications aren’t on
traditional med carts, but kept in lovely wooden cabinets
which I suspect were part of the seminary’s original furnishings.
The dining room, with its deep blue linen napkins and placemats,
has a massive wooden china cabinet, much like ones many
of the residents would have had in their own homes. Rather
than one large television room, the assisted living floor
has several cozy seating areas.
example of a staff willing to innovate was their solution
to the challenge of residents on the Memory Care floor waking
up at night and not being able to settle back to sleep.
A staff member wondered if perhaps residents were taking
their “cues” that it was no longer night by seeing staff
in day clothes and bright lights in the common areas. Now
the overnight staff work in their pyjamas and the lights
are dimmed. It worked.
this innovation was first introduced at Forest Valley Terrace,
it has been incorporated into Symphony’s other Memory Care
units. As the company’s website says: “Sometimes it is the
small, common sense ideas that can make a huge difference.”
column will talk more about the various programs and activities
at Forest Valley Terrace, including a story about baby goats
and the miracle of music