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New model for Kelowna seniors' housing at Orchard Gardens

Improved living for seniors

By Ken Fraser

When I was 21 years old, I broke my neck in a diving accident and have been confined to a wheelchair ever since. Three years after my accident I was hired by VRS Communities, a non-profit organization based in Vancouver, as a housing placement officer. My job was to find wheelchair accessible housing in the community for individuals in wheelchairs.

This was no easy task in 1982.

I was passionate about my work, and it showed. I was later promoted to accountant and then to executive director, a position I have held for the past 30 years.

At VRS Communities we have been creating housing solutions and services for clients in B.C. for almost 50 years. Our story is one rooted in integrity, perseverance and inspiration. Beginning our journey as a non-profit serving persons with disabilities, we now proudly serve thousands of individuals throughout the province, including seniors and families. We believe in building communities where everyone experiences belonging, growth and independence.

Seven years ago, we identified a need in the seniors community for a high quality affordable housing option for middle income seniors. There were many high-end, independent seniors living projects and some subsidized facilities in the market, but not a lot of options for middle income retirees to live in a safe and supported environment.

From this calling, a vision for VRS Seniors Living was born. We now proudly own and operate eleven seniors communities throughout B.C. and Alberta, including our Kelowna location—Orchard Gardens Seniors Community—and have more in the planning stage.

What is unique about our seniors residences is our commitment to quality and affordability—matching our words with the actions we take each day to bring those benefits back to our residents. Our bottom line is not something of interest to the board of directors; the exceptions being if we are running at a surplus, we are charging too much or need to increase services. With this model we believe in a new way forward for seniors housing.

We are committed to bringing our service model to many communities, including Orchard Gardens Seniors Community in Kelowna, and to prove we can compete by delivering a better retirement solution for our seniors.

VRS Communities acquired Orchard Gardens in 2019, when it was known as Fernbrae Manor. It features inclusive services like daily social activities, 24-hour security, daily exercise programs, private suites, beautiful courtyard gardens and delicious West Coast-style home cooking.

More information about Orchard Gardens can be obtained by calling 250.979.0600 or emailing [email protected].

Ken Fraser is the executive director of VRS Communities Seniors Living, including Kelowna's Orchard Gardens

This article is written by or on behalf of the sponsoring client and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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