To mark its 65th anniversary this year, Salem Home is embarking on the biggest wholesale renovation project to ever take place at the personal care home in Winkler, according to CEO Sherry Janzen.

In fact, work has already begun on the three-phase effort to refurbish 60 resident rooms in the 1972 part of the building. Phase One will focus on 20 resident rooms, Phase Two will comprise of another 20 rooms, and the third phase will consist of the remaining rooms.

Janzen admits, officials initially didn't set out to do this project but says the COVID-19 pandemic created an opportunity.

"Because we couldn't do any admissions during the outbreaks we were in from November to February, we were presented with the opportunity of a number of empty beds that are now allowing us to do this," she explained. "We'll never have an opportunity of having twenty empty beds ever again."

These empty beds allow for residents to move to another part of the home while work takes place.

At this point, the plan is to do two phases, noted Janzen, adding the majority of that work is happening in the Cottonwood wing. "After that, we'll see where we're at," she added, noting there are 10 beds in the Maple unit that also need work.

As part of this project, the rooms, original to 1972, will be gutted and updated with new furniture and equipment, and reconfigured to be more user-friendly.

"It would be like my mom and dad building a house in 1972 and nothing had ever changed until today. So that means we have bright orange or bright gold countertops in the bathrooms, we would have old furniture, old floors," explained Janzen. "If you never change anything, it's hard to live in that space. Environment is very important. When your whole life comes down to one room, that room...and how it looks and functions is very important."

Included, is also asbestos abatement, a fire suppression system, a larger air handling unit that meets code in air exchanges, air conditioning in the rooms, state-of-the-art electric beds, and H-Track Lifting Systems. Way-finding triggers will also be implemented to assist residents living with dementia in navigating where they live.

“This project will ensure that the building remains current and usable for future years," said James Peters, Chair of the Governing Board for Salem Home in a news release. "As a Board, we know that past Governing Boards have prepared Salem Home for the future, and we want to do the same for future boards. But more importantly, we want the residents to live in an environment that is suitable to their needs."

Salem Home anticipates partnering with Southern Health-Santé Sud and Manitoba Health on costs such as fire suppression and other structural requirements.

The Salem Foundation, together with Salem Home, will be coordinating the fundraising campaign as well.

“We are pleased to support Salem Home in this way” said Arlen Hildebrand, Chair of Salem Foundation. “We have worked together on multiple projects that have positively impacted the lives of the residents who live there. It is good to see how each project has benefited the residents of today and in the future.”

While some funding negotiations are still ongoing, Salem Home’s cost for all three phases is anticipated to be $1.5 million dollars. Donations towards this worthy project can be made to Salem Foundation, 165 – 15th Street, Winkler MB

“We celebrate these years with humbleness and thanksgiving for the churches and community’s commitment and support, striving for the betterment of those who live here, so they can flourish," added Peters. “Salem Home has been blessed over the years because of the support, encouragement and prayers. We seek God’s guidance in all we do.”