Deer Lodge Centre program offers innovative care for independent seniors

As Manitoba’s Baby Boomers enter their senior years, the demands they place on the healthcare system have been steadily mounting. Offering more hospital facilities and care home beds isn’t enough to meet their growing needs, however.

That’s why Deer Lodge Centre’s PRIME program is taking a different approach.

“PRIME is a one-stop shop that provides support, care and services to clients with complex health and psychosocial needs – as well as to their families and caregivers – all in one place,” says Lisa Lloyd-Scott, manager of PRIME. “Our aim is help our clients live at home, with our support, for as long as possible.”

Ninety-eight-year-old Delmer Dobbin was a PRIME client until recently. Twice a week, a shuttle bus would take him to Deer Lodge Centre. There, he’d spent the day socializing with other PRIME clients. He’d receive assessments and care from an interdisciplinary health-care team, as well as lunch, snacks, and exercise.

A former boxer, Delmer isn’t shy about the benefits of physical activity to his body or to his competitive spirit. “I was the only one there who could lift the three-pound dumb bells.”

At the end of each day, the bus returned him home, safe and sound.

PRIME clients visit one to five days a week. They pay a per diem charge based on their annual income. An after-hours service provides an additional measure of support, says Lloyd-Scott. Delmer’s visits to PRIME made all the difference not only to him, but to his wife Shirley. A retired maternity nurse and Delmer’s primary caregiver at home, Shirley was on the brink of exhaustion before PRIME stepped in.

“I couldn’t sleep at night, I was always worrying about him,” she says. Delmar’s days at PRIME gave her a chance to catch up on her sleep, regain her energy, and reclaim time for herself. “I had peace of mind because I knew Delmer was in the best possible hands.”

The program even helped coordinate nursing care for Delmer at home when Shirley suffered a stroke in May.

As for Delmer, a Canadian Forces veteran who served in the Second World War, he only stopped going to PRIME when he moved into Deer Lodge Centre for long-term care this fall.

Now it’s now Shirley’s turn to enjoy some PRIME time. “It’s a chance for me to get out of the house and meet new people. I don’t have to wait to see a doctor, or make a separate trip.” She taps her foot and adds, “I even get a pedicure.”

PRIME’s benefits may be obvious, but the program’s capacity isn’t limitless. Lloyd-Scott says the waiting list to get in is eight months long. A second PRIME program, at Misericordia Hospital, with a capacity for 70 clients, launched in spring of 2015.

For more information about PRIME, visit

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