By Chava Fine
In Toronto, when you think ‘kosher retirement home’, think ‘all-inclusive resort’.
Residents of Kensington Place, a kosher retirement home certified by COR, experience an all-inclusive lifestyle which includes gourmet kosher meals served daily, spacious upscale suites, daily activities to suit a variety of interests and a comfortable, homey Shabbos experience.
Located just west of Bathurst and Sheppard, Kensington Place is one of four kosher retirement homes in Toronto certified by COR, which includes Terrace Gardens, and the Terraces of Baycrest.
“These retirement homes are doing a tremendous service by becoming kosher-certified. We need it as a community,” said Rabbi Tsvi Heber, Director of Community Kosher at COR.
Kensington Place, which has been owned by Baybridge Senior Living since 2013, offers two main services to accommodate its seniors. There is an Independent Lifestyle option for independent seniors, and an Assisted Living option for those who require assistance. The Assisted Living option provides full care such as medication management, bathing and dressing, which is delivered in the privacy of one’s own suite. The facility also offers a trial stay program and a program for respite stays.
The almost 90 residents at Kensington Place, a number of whom arrive at the facility with their spouses, share similar interests and life experiences and make up a close-knit community.
“Most of the residents grew up in this area so a lot of them knew each other prior to moving in,” said Joyce Welygan, General Manager of Kensington Place.
The residents contribute greatly to the home’s heimish Jewish atmosphere.
“A lot of our programming is Jewish-based,” said Welygan. “We try to maintain a strong Jewish connection in the building.”
For Shabbat, there is candle-lighting and Shabbat services in the sanctuary with Torah reading, and for the High Holidays, a cantor is brought in to conduct the services. Moreover, every Passover, family members of the residents are encouraged to join their families for a Seder at the facility.
Additionally, a number of Rabbis visit on a regular basis to teach and interact with the residents.
According to Linda Tittel, Regional Director of Sales and Marketing at Baybridge Senior Living, residents appreciate the wide variety of services and amenities offered by Kensington Place.
“People love living here,” said Tittel. “Location is number one, as the residents have a lot of family and friends in the area. Most of the residents come from the surrounding 5 km area. We make life easy for seniors by providing all their meals and housekeeping. The feedback we receive from the residents is that they love the way we honour Jewish customs.”
Moshe Oziel, food service manager at Kensington Place, whips up a delectable selection of meal options for the residents, including staples such as brisket, cabbage rolls and perogies. “We try to hit home with all of the food that the residents are used to culturally. The residents are familiar with homestyle cooking and that’s what they appreciate when they come here,” said Oziel. “Also, we are sensitive to peoples’ needs – if someone is lactose intolerant or diabetic, we do our best to make sure that everyone feels as welcome and satisfied as possible,” said Oziel.
For the residents who like to keep busy, Kensington Place has an activity director who regularly implements new and innovative programs to keep the seniors healthy and active. Offerings include brain training seminars, fitness classes, knitting and piano classes, among others.
Family is of utmost importance at Kensington Place, and the residents are encouraged to have regular visits with family members.
“We have close connections with the families of the residents and we encourage families to come in and be a part of Kensington all the time,” said Welygan. “Also, Sunday is family day for the residents – all family is invited. We have live entertainment along with coffee, tea and snacks.”
For those who are interested in visiting Kensington Place, the home holds events on a monthly basis that are open to the public. Also, if arranged by phone in advance, prospective residents can visit with their families on a weekday and have lunch, plus receive a tour of the facility.
While Toronto weather certainly doesn’t compare to Miami, when you are inside the walls of Kensington Place or any of the other kosher retirement homes certified by COR, it still feels like vacation.