Community Mapping Capacity - Elderly Community - Controlled vs. Uncontrolled
Senior’s Village and Community in
By: Jasmine Wells
I was inspired to study and observe the senior’s community throughout Nanaimo,
and I ended up doing two community walks. One in Nanaimo and the other in
Ladysmith, where I live.
I work at Nanaimo Senior’s Village as a dietary aide, all the while picking up on all
sorts of differing personalities, background stories, hard times, and the overall
hardships that the residents talk about daily.
With such a jump from one generation to the next, it’s always challenging to work
around customs that aren’t your own and that you haven’t been brought up with.
It has been everything from intriguing, amusing, heartbreaking, and sometimes
downright stressful to work at NSV around people who suffer from Dementia and
I have done a community walk of both NSV and The Bean Time, a coffee house in
Ladysmith. NSV is the controlled environment, meaning that all the customers are
of a certain age group and are also the residents. By default, there are only elders.
I did my second walk in The Bean Time to observe more diversity and compare
the controlled and independent environment, to gain a perspective on the two
Community Walk (Part 1) – NSV Bistro –
Controlled Elderly Environment
The bistro in Nanaimo Senior’s Village has nine tables with four chairs at each.
There are lounging couches all facing a piano, where the Recreational department
always has people coming in to put on mini shows, play the piano, amongst other
things to keep the residents entertained.
With permission from my boss during my recovery time post tonsillectomy, I was
able to sit in the perfect corner and read through the brochures, observe the
conversation, and see how the residents interacted.
The daily lives of most of our residents is convenience mixed with immobility. A
beautiful suite, designed for comfort. The residents get some choice in their food,
and there are still personality conflicts that arise during social interaction.
Community Walk(Part 1) – Continued
Some of the commonalities that exist between the residents in the controlled
environment is hardships, the era they grew up in, customs, table manners and
etiquette, holidays and religious backgrounds, and most of all, immobility.
As with everything, there are some differences that exist. When I see residents
grabbing their hot drinks and pastries, there’s different tastes in how they make
their coffee, how they prefer their tea, which pastry they enjoy, and simple things
that spark conversation.
More in depth differences that are underlying from mere observation is how they
grew up, where their families come from, where they were born, their taste in
food and music, the way they carry themselves and interact with others, and how
they respond to conflict.
There are some residents that were always very irate due to their frustration from
being in a nursing home, dementia, losing their mobility, having trouble with
certain foods, and lacking the ability to do a lot of the things they could do when
they were younger.
This causes an effect of certain residents being negative towards others. There
are two of them that are eavesdropping and causing some minor trouble. Seeing
different reactions from different cultures and beliefs surfaces through conflict.
Community Walk(Part 1) – Continued
Some of the strengths of the controlled elderly community are the unity of elders,
the ability to relate, more opportunities to interact, a sense of bonding, power in
numbers,and more ways to communicate their problems to the care aids that
work around them.
It is challenging to find a lot of strengths and diversity in the controlled
environment because there isn’t as much diversity age wise, and losing mobility
results in a sense of lost strength.
Challenges that exist in the Nanaimo Senior’s Village are immobility, dementia,
ageism, lack of care due to power in numbers, prone to illness, and the occasional
conflict with other residents.
There are services that exist to cater to all their needs, such as care aids, locks on
the doors from multi-level(serious dementia ward), safety precautions and
education to all staff, 24 hour service available(overnight care), and recreational
activities throughout the month.
Services Available – Brochures
Unfortunately my scanner would not work, so I took photos of the package that
potential and new residents receive to gain more knowledge about Nanaimo
Services Available - Brochures
In the package it features a six month rotation menu, the calendar for that month
with the activities that are happening, safety precautions, services provided, suite
sizes and pricing, as well as options to go to Highgate, the cheaper and
independent living facility.
Community Walk(Part 1) – Continued
There isn’t a large variety of cultures in this facility. A majority of the residents are
Caucasian and of a Christian upbringing. There are a few who are of Hindu
descent, one Chinese woman, and a woman who has reported to have been a
lesbian but is now secretive about it since entering into the facility.
The age range in the facility is from 75-102. The variety of age and people across
the lifespan board is very limited. The few younger residents are in NSV due to
brain damage, massive strokes, Parkinson’s Disease, or Multiple Sclerosis.
The activities that the residents are involved in consist of Bingo, lunch and dinner
outings once every other week, salon specialists who come in monthly,
entertainment from the Recreational department, and more activities to choose
Nanaimo Senior’s Village is the newest facility on the island, with documentation
only remaining in the building. Since it’s a confidential place catering to senior’s
mobility and safety, the only things in the Nanaimo City Hall that are mentioned
about NSV are the options for seniors who need the care along with NSV
With permission from residents and Management, I surveyed 72 residents on
what they felt were great strengths in the home, and what assets were essential
The layout I used on the survey sheet was to write as much as they could about
what strengths they saw in themselves and others, and what they felt they could
Surveying – Assets, Strengths, and Social
After sorting and reading all the ballots, the commonalities between each of their
strengths was knowledge, inspiration, brain development, advice on past careers,
compassion after prolonged work ethic, and overall hard working generation.
The weaknesses that were stated was, as mentioned, immobility, frailty, health
problems, mental health issues, loss of family and friends after aging, feeling like a
“weight” on the government system, feelings of discomfort from younger
generations, high cost of living and assistance, and feeling like they’re straining
their loved ones due to their age and living situation.
An ad for moving assistance to get into NSV as a new resident.
Spa company ad for NSV and Retirement Home services.
Social Media (Continued)
I was unable to find physical forms of newspaper clippings, but there are a lot of
controversial cases that have been found on NSV and the Retirement Concepts
Chain and the treatment of staff and residents.
“At Retirement Concepts Nanaimo Seniors Village (NSV), a family member made
allegations last year about inadequate wound care provided to her father…The
Nanaimo Seniors Village has been the focus of considerable media attention this
year(2007), amidst charges that Retirement Concepts has weakened quality of
care in a series of subcontractor changes that have seen care aid staff fired
repeatedly and re-hired at lower wages.”
Source - http://thetyee.ca/News/2007/10/12/BeaconHillVilla/
In more recent articles such as the one below, it is evident that NSV has done
quite a turn around, with this cover story of an improved housing unit published
in January 2014.
“At Nanaimo Seniors Village, people can live as independently as they like, but
receive additional assistance and support if it is required through our in-house
home support. Seniors can enjoy the fun and friendship that life at the Village has
to offer and leave the day to day responsibilities to the professionals.
Nanaimo Seniors Village is a full “Campus of Care”, meaning that residents can
age in place. As residents’ needs change, they do not have to look for a new place
to live – their needs can be accommodated right here at one location within our
Drop In – Observations
Before dropping by the home on my day off, I decided to imagine myself going
into this building for the first time, never having seen anything before I gained
I asked myself questions to familiarize memories and thoughts I first had when I
walked in for my interview. Where am I? What part of the building am I in? Are
these residents aware of their surroundings? How do they feel about guests and
unfamiliar visitors? Why are they looking at me differently? What do I see, smell,
feel, and sense?
Little things I noticed were how intrigued the residents became with new people,
especially younger people, because it reminded them of happier times. The
residents were relaxed, most of them passing the time until their dining room was
ready for service. Small talks were had around the bistro area, consisting of things
like where they grew up, their ethnic backgrounds, and fashion from that era.
Bulletins, pamphlets, and brochures in the facility were much like the photos
above. The main focus was safety of the residents and employees. Other
pamphlets were focused on beauty and maintenance, events for seniors to meet
fellow seniors, outings, dances, overall celebrations such as Saint Patrick’s Day.
My first impressions with NSV was that it is clean and pristine, professional,
heavily concerned about the well being of the residents, mild lack of consistency
with the Reception area, and lastly, that the place itself had a very formal sense to
Assets and Strengths – Building Blocks
Primary building blocks with NSV are the care aids, the 24 hours protection, and
the servers who are willing to help feed residents and assist in their eating and
daily life. NSV gives the residents the opportunity to write their own stories and
scrapbook memories, making their stay more pleasant as an experience.
Secondary building blocks are the health administrators that run the Retirement
Concepts chain, which manages NSV, regional management, and the Vancouver
Island Health Authority. The administrators and management do inspections, stay
up to date, and ensure the safety and wellbeing of residents within the facility.
They manage the outside, such as food orders and hiring nurses and care aids, all
the while focusing on the long term on the outside too.
Lastly, Potential building blocks would be the resident’s guests, the transporters
of products and goods, and the outside people who come in and transport
residents to outings and dining elsewhere, outside recreational activities coming
into the facility, and salon experts who come in monthly.
All these building blocks are what have cause NSV to become more positive,
consistent, and fluent in the care of residents.
Community Walk (Part 2) – Uncontrolled
Environment – The Bean Time
As explained, this is my uncontrolled environment in Ladysmith, where there are
a lot of elder residents who live here, alongside high school aged students and
The larger diversity of age in an open environment helps to contrast and compare
the two scenarios. When sitting in, “In TheBeanTime”, I observed the other
residents who live here.
The daily lived reality that I can see is a small group of high school kids having
their lunch, two middle aged couples having their snack and conversing, and three
elderly couples enjoying the sunshine, sitting outside, and having a cold drink.
What I have noticed since living in Ladysmith is the sense of community that lives
here, and the amount of people who talk to you openly regardless of how you
look or what your age is.
Community Walk (Part 2) – Continued
Some commonalities that the residents share is that sense of community,
relation, and concern for keeping Ladysmith as a fluent and stable place. It’s a
small town of 5000 people, so everyone knows each other, their families, and the
owners of all the shops.
It’s the right amount of people to make it a comfortable small town without the
“fishbowl” aspect, but it isn’t nearly large enough to be considered of a Nanaimo
There are differences such as the age groups, point in life, occupation, diet, family
life, ethnicity, and interests.
Apart from just the strong sense of community here, there are strengths such as
serious concern for those in the community who need it, kindness to strangers, a
welcoming approach to everybody, locals that are willing to know more about you
and inquire about you, 90% of the shops here are locally owned, an overall
Community Walk (Part 2) - Continued
If you go into Ladysmith’s official town office they will contain your standard
introduction to the town, places you can see, and attractions that everyone can
go to. There is a really small section on the far left corner on the left hand side of
the area which has Narcotics Anonymous pamphlets, AA meetings, and support
groups for women and children with money struggles.
Other services that exist in local shops is their common public catering, but there
are bulletin/cork boards on the side of the hotel along the main drag with concert
and show events, more NA meetings, nanny and dog walking businesses, and new
things happening in the small town itself.
The cultures that are mostly represented here are Aboriginal and Caucasian. Since
this is another Native town, there are totem poles in certain spots, but there is
the eclectic mix of the 1950’s era with it.
I see a lot of people across the lifespan, including very young children with their
parents, older women meeting up at all the cafes around town and shopping at
the health food store, and very few young adults like myself. The town caters
mostly to young parents and retired people, while still donning Aboriginal
The activities that locals partake in here is shopping, strolling along the boardwalk
and beach, yoga, events with their children such as local crafts, etc.
There are opportunities for seniors to interact here too, with all the cafes,
bakeries and places to see. The town of Ladysmith also hosts events for seniors
such as craft fairs and reading clubs.
Community Assets and Strengths
As stated before, Ladysmith has strengths that cater to just about all ages, are
finding great ways of reaching out to their residents, taking care of occupying
their elders, and identifying issues that need to be taken care of.
The senior’s population of Ladysmith are very positive and active, and after
speaking to some of them in the café community walk, they were more than
pleased to talk about their experiences in the town.
The elderly residents of Ladysmith feel that other strengths that this town carries
are bringing up a good work ethic, due to most of the companies hiring high
school students and elders, there are volunteering opportunities at the thrift shop
and other places here, and that the diversity helps to give an open upbringing for
The elderly residents have also mentioned feeling a large sense of comfort and
safety when they travel on foot around town, not only because of the
friendliness, but also the volunteers who help with fire rescue and road spotting.
Primary building blocks of Ladysmith are the locals who are willing to keep the
town alive and well, the elders who volunteer and stay active in the community,
and the locally owned shops that make the town authentic.
Secondary building blocks of Ladysmith are the town administration office, the
few chain stores that exist, and the Chamber of Commerce.
Potential building blocks of Ladysmith are the people who drive through the town
to either get to Victoria or Nanaimo, and stop by to eat/drink something and the
overall resources that come into Ladysmith from elsewhere(i.e. grocery store
Community Assets and Strengths –
There are assets as well, and a few downfalls that Ladysmith has; there has been
reports of missing teens in the past such as the most recent finding of a body back
in August 30, 2013. Story:
Although there are issues such as this everywhere, residents, city hall documents,
and police reports have noted that Ladysmith has always had a bad record for
Breaking and Entering cases in homes around Christmas time. Specifically when
The Festival of Lights is happening, where the main drag is packed with people
out of town and the locals are out of their homes to see the light shows.
There are very common cases all year around of Breaking and Entering cases into
cars during the night in specific neighbourhoods where change goes missing and
documents are strewn all over their vehicles.
Drop In – Observations
When I dropped into the agency in the Town of Ladysmith, I noticed how clean
and organized everything was, filled with bulletins on town news and ways to
reach out to the troubled youth and addictions crowd. My first impression was
how easy going the town itself was.
I asked myself questions such as, “How do I feel being in this town?”, “What are
some of the issues that occur yearly?”, “How do the elders feel? Are there any
struggles that they feel they have?”, and “As a young adult, how does it feel to
Since I work full time in Nanaimo, I find I spend a lot more time there than I do at
my own house, so I still had that sense of being a visitor.
The view of the town is easier to take in than my previous visit, because of the
variety and the amount of people who acknowledge culture as more than
something to fear.
The perk of Ladysmith is that out of town people have dubbed it the, “Hippie
Capital” of the Island. There are local health food shops, bakeries that cater to
celiac disease, a local book store, and a Birkenstock shoe store.
Little things I noticed with the town of Ladysmith is that it’s very eclectic,
colourful, like a mini BC equivalent of San Francisco. The residents are a lot more
accepting of difference and odd commodities.
Photo credit: Myself, Taken in San Francisco, Haight-Ashbury area, September
The Hippie/Summer of Love district of California, admiring the emphasis on
community, animals, empowerment, and the unity of people.
Photo credit: Myself, Taken in Ladysmith. House for sale down the street, and this
was the sign that was behind it.
The promotion of creativity.
There are a few main websites where you can view information on Ladysmith,
such as the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce at http://www.ladysmithcofc.com.
The main website for news between Chemainus and Ladysmith is the Ladysmith
With the Ladysmith Chronicle comes a subcategory for all kinds of things like
events in the future, events that just happened, and an interesting category
called, “Opinions”, which talks about issues happening in the town and what the
locals think about it.
For the elderly population, Ladysmith has made it’s own site for elders wanting to
gain more post secondary education at
The Ladysmith Resources Centre Association helps transition people into easier
living in Ladysmith at http://www.lrca.bc.ca.
Lastly, there is a small nursing home in Ladysmith for the elders who have lost
their mobility. It’s called The Lodge on 4th
, funded by Compass.
The pictures above are from the documented time periods of 1920’s(first photo)
and 1898/99(second photo), recording the time when the very first Ladysmith
pub was opened(and is still going strong), and when the 1920’s economy started
picking back up.
Found: Ladysmith Museum and Artifacts.
Conclusion – Controlled vs. Uncontrolled
With the controlled environment, I felt like it was a safe environment, but it was
very formal, making outsiders feel slightly uncomfortable if they are not of the
same age group. There was a lot less diversity because of the circumstances of the
It’s more challenging to go from one end of the spectrum to the next. The
controlled environment was also very limiting in a sense of city hall documents
and social media, because with the limited age group available came a generation
who wasn’t as tech savvy as their younger counterparts.
The uncontrolled environment felt a lot more relaxed because of the variety.
There was a lot less racism to be found because of the acceptance that’s been
developing the last few generations. The elder residents were more content and
adamant to talk about the town, because they weren’t immobile.
The biggest similarity I could find with both environments was the massive
concern of the well being and safety of their residents. It was easier to access
information on the history of Ladysmith and speak with the elderly residents
because of the stable sense of mind, and accessing files from residents at NSV
would require further permission with their story to read.
Below photo: Ladysmith Loggers. Found: Ladysmith Museum and Artifacts.