#YQRCX: Orange Tree Village

It takes a village to raise a child, but children aren’t the only ones who need the support of a village.

Enter Orange Tree Village, a new intergenerational care facility in Regina. It offers supportive living services for seniors in a way that creates a completely unique and superior experience. Owned jointly by PFM Capital’s SaskWorks Fund and parent company Orange Tree Living, the facility brings together seniors, children, students, staff and the general public in a way that enhances the quality of life for all involved. “Our goal here is to make people of any age feel comfortable being together,” says Orange Tree Living CEO, Crystal Spooner.

Spooner grew up in the senior care industry in southern Saskatchewan, and eventually moved to Regina as the owner of 5 care homes. She found a striking difference between her new urban homes and the rural homes she had managed previously. In smaller communities, local schools would bring students in to visit the seniors; after all, they had known each other all their lives. In an urban setting, that familiarity and casual mingling was not occurring. In 2013, she learned of the Summit Action Fund offering grants for innovative housing, and the dream of Orange Tree Village took root. She wanted to recreate the magic of an intergenerational community, and all the benefits one can bring.

And if you don’t believe in magic, trust science. Research has shown that seniors in intergenerational settings tend to exhibit increased engagement and socialization, and improved physical and emotional health.i These health benefits include improved cognitive function, decreased depression and better memory.ii They can also burn up to 20% more calories, become less reliant on canes or walkers and experience fewer falls. Other research has shown that children in intergenerational settings receive “more individualized attention while gaining a natural compassion for and understanding of the elderly.”i

Our interest in Orange Tree Village is that they have succeeded in creating an enhanced experience that offers superior value. From a business point of view, that’s attractive. Their rates can be as much as 20% higher than other facilities, but the additional value delivered leaves everyone involved delighted. This value stems from the blend of services that makes the whole place thriving community.

Our goal here is to make people of any age feel comfortable being together.
— Cystal Spooner, CEO

In addition to supportive living and memory care for seniors, the facility includes an art studio, a daycare learning centre, specialized suites for students, an excellent dining experience with Roots Kitchen & Bar, aesthetic services for the public and residents alike and a café bakery. This unique combination creates a melting pot of demographics. “When we opened the restaurant, we expected the restaurant would primarily serve our residents,” says Spooner. “It turned out to be the opposite. Our residents are so social; they’re out living busy lives. When we see them in the restaurant it’s because they’ve brought their friends in.”

Orange Tree Village is a thriving community in and of itself. For the general public, it’s a great place to meet friends over coffee or for a special family dinner out. For the residents, it’s a village where everyone literally does know your name. For Regina, it’s a one-of-a-kind experience that both fills the heart and delivers on the balance sheet.

Photos courtesy of Orange Tree Living, SaskWorks and Greg Huszar Photography.

i Cormier, Judy. Bridging Generations: Innovation in elder and childcare, 2013.
ii http://www.orangetreeliving.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Intergenerational_fact_sheet1.pdf