Benefits Services and Value for seniors in rural communities

A new project is underway at Abigail Ministries that could provide an alternative to urban nursing homes and assisted living for seniors living in Canada.

Until now, a lack of housing options and health support, for those who live in the country, has forced many rural residents into the cities, ending their way of life and connection to rural areas. Rather than uproot the residents and move them into an urban care centre, a program, called the CCS Way, a network of Christian Communities and Services, would bring the city care and facilities to the hamlets across the nation.

Community Care Solutions and Abigail Ministries is a private sector corporation and non-profit  respectively that support grassroots community development in rural communities. CCS Way is a segment of the society dedicated to engaging the community in responding to rural ageing needs.

CCS and Abigail Ministries has created a micro community, CCS Village, within a Hamlet, a small settlement of land located in Georgian Bluffs Township in Grey, Bruce Ontario. This micro community will facilitate affordable comfortable ageing.

At a cost of approximately $1 million, CCS has funded the early stages of engineering, feasibility and development studies. The project is looking for purchasers and financial backers to complete the remaining four homes by 2015. Located on the 2 acres of land are a Host Home, Community Centre, Workshop and two model homes of 500 sq ft to 1060 sq ft priced from $85,000 to $149,999.

Like many innovative business models, we are looking for church communities to come alongside this model and help to expand the Christian message through acts of care.

Future residents could include business owners, farmers, those who wish to use their later years assisting and volunteering in building homes, or caregiving in other countries. This project is for those who wish a rural lifestyle of ageing from age 55 on. We at CCS are redefining ageing.

The CCS concept was designed and shaped by Gail A Acton, who holds a Masters in Social Work, for senior alternatives to care and housing. The joining of rural senior volunteers, church communities, and government to advise and fund this new strategy and overall vision, is an expectation towards shaping senior living, from warehousing and shelving seniors in nursing homes and retirement lodges, towards a vision of seniors as mentors to the young, working to assist younger entrepreneurs in business, creating care facilities and new lifestyle that moves the emphasis of isolation for seniors to contributors in our society into their 90's..

An eclectic mix of farmers, business, entrepreneurs,  government, artists, caregivers, and Christians, highlight the common denominator of CARE for our community and our people.

A workshop, commercial business and office, enterprise centre, crafting space, commercial kitchen, and multi-purpose community gathering and functions space for up to 20 people is located on site close to the Host Home;

• Community gardens;

• A transportation system to reach shopping destinations as well as social and medical trips outside the community;

• Health and Social care will be available via visiting providers, and ensure long term care  and living in place lifestyle for residents;

• Personal and companion care, housekeeping, home maintenance, delivery services and more will be made available via contracts and according to means;

• Fitness and recreation opportunities, education and learning, as well as community involvement, will be stressed to help residents remain active;

Community resources are shared and cost effective management with just in time service management.


All of this is ensconced in the natural beauty of Georgian Bluffs, a Township in southwestern Ontario, Canada in Grey County located between Colpoy's Bay and Owen Sound on Georgian Bay.  The township comprises the communities of Alvanley, Balmy Beach, Benallen, Big Bay, Clavering, Copperkettle, Cruickshank, East Linton, Hogg, Inglis Falls, Jackson, Keady, Kemble, Kilsyth, Lake Charles , Lindenwood, Oxenden, Shallow Lake, Shouldice, Springmount, Squire, Wolseley and Zion.

 The project supports rural values, such as encouraging land stewardship and the appreciation of the environment, with a design that reflects the culture and history of the residents' entrepreneurism.

CCS Village and Abigail Homes attracts a market segment that are 55-plus seniors, either near, semi- or fully retired, living or have lived in a rural area, and prefer a rural setting and a rural area retirement community; do not want to live in a typical urban retirement community, and want to remain within a social network and/or live with like-minded individuals.”

Gail Acton, adds that the low-cost design appeals both to the pocketbooks of residents, and ageing baby boomers, and the desires of rural seniors.

CCS Village is not a typical development, nor is it using a typical development approach. It’s an appropriate housing development not adequately met by the existing market. It values supporting ageing residents within their own community. "What we’ve been focusing on is how to bring economic balance into rural development,” says Acton. CCS Village is planned for land donated by Gail and Ken Acton, who have lived and worked in this area for over 47 years, with business and family, and with the specific purpose of supporting rural living for senior citizens. Acton was heavily involved in the community planning, and developed the Certification and training for PSWs, for Ontario and then created a National Association of Certified Caregivers/Personal Support Workers, the first Volunteer Services Network into Owen Sound, and workplace training for young and old.

Espousing the rural ideal of neighbour helping neighbour, CCS Village and Abigail Homes offer rural seniors a unique option as they grow a little older. It allows long-time residents to remain in their community among supportive friends, neighbours and family as they age and require more support.


Rehabilitation at CCS

Rehabilitation Success after a car accident that nearly kills Bob

"Most of you folks who know me are aware that i was in a serious car accident fracturing my neck and back and lost the ability to walk. I want to thank Gail A Acton, her staff and facility for getting me on my feet again. Gail runs her programs with "CCR" and although I'm still recovering the progress is amazing because of her help. I highly recommend her facility to anyone needing therapy. Thanks" ―Bob



PSW Strike

Gail Acton recently received the following email. Her response is also featured below:

We the People, By the People and For the People

As you are aware the 4600 Personal Support Workers (PSWs) employed by The Canadian Red Cross Society and Red Cross Care Partners have been on strike since Wednesday December 11th. This affects 150 PSWs in Sault Ste. Marie and continues to have a devastating impact on untold numbers of elderly and disabled persons throughout our community. The vast majority of Ontarians would prefer the independence to age and receive care in their home. This provides them the dignity they rightly deserve. The question before this community and indeed this Government then is what value we place on the dignity and independence of our most vulnerable.

Currently our working conditions hover at the poverty line.  The average wage of a PSW working for the Red Cross is $14.32 per hr. We receive $0.34 per/km driven.  A five year wage freeze in which inflation and rising gas prices have resulted in a 7% decrease in wages and substandard remuneration for mileage have further compounded this. The latter has resulted in many of us having to pay out of our own pocket to deliver care. For years we have done so out of care and respect for our clients and now we are simply asking the same for ourselves.

The work we do each and every day enables clients to stay in their own home, keeping them away from Nursing homes, hospital and long term care facilities. It seems this is a case of corporate greed, as the company is allotted $30 per hour for their PSW's. that means the worker receives less then 50% of that money, when we are the eyes, ears, and hands of this company. Last year RC's CEO received a 9% wage increase, which amounted to approx. $23 000. A front line worker doesn't even make that in a year.

Support is needed from friends and family of the members, as well as our community. Help us show the government and the employer that we ARE important, and we deserve respect and to be treated fairly. We as workers are not happy about this decision, however it is what needs to be done , as all other means of negotiating have been exhausted.

The support from the community has been overwhelming yet you remain silent on the issue. As voters I am sure you can understand this has been disappointing to put it charitably. The home care system needs good jobs to provide a stable workforce for our clients who depend on it and this Government should strive to ensure that funding goes to front line care rather than corporate profits and bureaucracy.

Although we understand that your reply will likely centre on not wanting to interfere in a labour dispute this empty rhetoric ignores the human element of this struggle and does little to ease the suffering those who deliver and receive care. Sadly it seems the home care system is designed to be an exercise in exploitation with the Government a willing participant. You were elected to be a voice of leadership for our community. Its time you stood up and recognized the essential role we play in the health care system and advocated for the justice that we and our clients deserve. If you chose to remain silent then you can be assured that our voices as well as those of our families and friends will be heard in the next general election.

We are asking you to help remedy this and help our local employer to ratify this strike action and help our PSW's get back to serving the community which is now at a high risk.  Thank you for your assistance in this urgent matter.  Is there a time you could meet with us?


The men and women PSW's of the Canadian Red Cross Assisted Living Program, Sault Ste, Marie Ontario.


Response from Gail Acton:

I am aware that 4,600 Personal Support Workers have been on strike since December 11th. I do not believe it has a devastating impact on elderly and disabled, although PSWs would like you to think so. If the PSW truly had the dignity and independence of our most vulnerable as their prime concern, they would not be handling this strike in this militant and vigilante fashion.
This strike is a political battle that pits the PSWs against the political mismanagement of Red Cross and the Liberal government of Ontario. Red Cross Care Partners have become the second scandal for incompetence, with the first being the tainted blood scandal. Waste and mismanagement have been as much on Red Cross' door step as on the door step of Deb Mathews, Minister of Health, and the bureaucracy that aides and abets a system that has little concern for the vulnerable they serve. Eighty per cent of every dollar spent from the government goes to serve more levels of government employees, and less to the client and the PSW.
All PSWs making $13.00 to $15.00 an hour, as health care providers, have less than 40 hours of Anatomy and Physiology and study in the province of Ontario, and 350 hours or less of academics to become a health care provider. They deserve more money in front line care, but they need to be better educated and hired directly by the seniors, so they learn the skill of customer service and accountability to the customer, and not another government agency. The Government is sailing a sinking ship, and the crew members, such as the existing PSWs, need upgrading and require more knowledge and skills for front line professionals. Shop stewards and union bosses, and especially the government sector unions such as SEIU, are taking bigger wages than the PSW,  and then pitting the PSW and the situation of health care as the only issue.
PSWs you are also victims, and until you change a mentality that says I only have to train this much to get this much, you too are losers in the system that pits vulnerable against vulnerable. This has nothing to do with corporate greed, only with government and union greed.
I may also add that I have been writing to the appropriate Ministries, and spending my own money to battle this ignorance. I conceived and wrote this program, called the Personal Support Worker (PSW), which because of government standards is still the same as twenty years ago, and the battleground is the same.
Certified Caregivers/PSWs are a mandatory service, and as such should not be allowed to strike. Yes you provide an important service, but the costs of nursing have increased thus creating your jobs, and now the government union is taking a portion of your pay. As professionals with education and training, you should be making $20.00 an hour, and if the provincial government took their hands out of the cookie jar, you could be paid the rate you deserve. Currently the $15.00 an hour is sufficient, considering you do not have any Anatomy and Physiology training, the cornerstone of health care.
I have met with political parties to change the 80/20 rule of management by government and ensure that PSWs become better trained and payed. This could be accomplished through a similar program to the Veterans Affairs program for caregivers and putting the hiring of front line workers in the hands of the consumer of the service. In the meantime think of your client and go directly to serve them and not the agency.




Education Bubble Bust

I have long thought that the educational bubble that is due to burst is soon going to be upon us. A high school diploma is no longer considered to be enough, and college and university education is not giving value for hours or dollars. We are living in a pressured economy.

The student of today has little work related skills, large debt from college and or university, and only entry-level opportunities for jobs. Employers are having difficulty determining the level of competency of anyone coming from the education sector. The Grade Eight, Twelve and University graduates often read and write below the level the employer needs to prepare letters, articles and web sites. As the employer manages, through the applications, to sort out education levels, they deal with yet another issue in the work place, that being a prevalent condition among applicants where attitude has been eroded with liberal school leniencies.  

The employer could be motivated to support a more educated, engaged populace, yet by the time the student has four years of University, or three years of college, they suffer from deep debts with student loans to repay. They have mostly secured their education on their own, but the educational facilities take no credit for student bungling or enormous loans. If a student wants to switch to another college, there is no real granting of equivalency or recognition of subjects where they have successfully obtained passing grades. Instead, the facility can make more money on running the student through another set of preliminaries for their chosen career. They can also make more money taking the international student, so because their English is not so good for an undergraduate, the level of their studies towards becoming an undergraduate are reduced to get the higher fees, while Canadians are being bilked for not only the educational costs for our own students but also for the level of education.

Billions of dollars are at stake in student loans, with debt climbing to  higher levels and there being no chance for the student to even go legitimately bankrupt because of their student loans. Wages are not keeping pace with inflation. Some graduates are emerging with degrees and excessive life time debt, and often unemployment or underemployment.

There’s nothing illegal about degree inflation. But this pattern of inflation of governments in Canada hiring only degrees, and not competencies, determines job market pressures, and lessens the opportunity for competency. As in the housing bust of the United States, the degree inflation in Canada is part of the complex chain effect that is threatening to drag down an entire generation of youth. Today education is like a balloon that is about to burst.

In the situation of the Personal Support Worker, we have government regulating and abusing Personal Support Workers who are paying at a college level for 300 hours of academics, and giving $5000.00 in non-paid work hours to nursing homes run by our government. Education institutions are charging $5,000 to $6,000.00 for 350 hours of elementary education, while offering no health care training, such as Anatomy and Physiology, the cornerstone of health care and working in front line health care. 



God uses people and God is passionate. He gives you passion for something to care about deeply so you can be a spokesperson for him in the world. It may be a passion about a problem, a purpose, a principle, or a group of people. Whatever it is, you'll feel compelled to speak up about it and do what you can to make a difference.

Talk About It

What passion has God given you?

What are you currently doing to pursue that passion?

Do you believe God wants you to do something more or different to accomplish his goals?

How can you support the godly passions of your friends and family?

Call CCS or visit us at www.creative.on.ca and click on the link Volunteer and find your passion to serve.