Since its inception, the Foundation has embraced the Chinese virtue of caring for the elderly. Thanks to the support of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the Ministry of Community and Social Services, the Mon Sheong Home for the Aged was opened on May 7, 1975 as a residential home for 65 seniors on D’Arcy Street, providing a culturally suitable environment for elderly Chinese Canadians. As one of the early community hubs, different Chinese organizations would often gather there to discuss their future direction and plans. Later, the Home would also develop outreach programs such as launching a Chinese meals on wheels service and holding health talks in conjunction with other groups.
The Foundation was also happy to support the efforts of other organizations catering to seniors within the community, including the Chinese Senior Citizens Recreation Society and the Chinese Seniors Home Support Services Association. Mon Sheong’s volunteers would pay frequent visits to Chinese seniors and organize activities and dinner gatherings for them to enjoy.
In 1985, a major renovation of the Home was successfully completed, with 34 of the existing spots being converted to extended care beds (equivalent to the standard of nursing home beds). The building’s improvements led to an increase in the autonomy and privacy of the residents, and expanded nursing care and other services were also added. In terms of bed count, the Home could now be considered more than half of a fully operating nursing home.
By the end of 1985, the Foundation felt that the Home was too small to fulfill the needs of the community and dreamed of further developing its senior care services. A feasibility study was completed in 1987, focusing on areas with large concentrations of Chinese Canadian seniors as well as a financial assessment of the required costs.
In 1990, Mon Sheong was awarded 40 new nursing home beds by the Ministry of Health and proceeded to acquire the land adjacent to the Home. On June 29, 1997, Queen Elizabeth II visited the Home for the Aged to lay the cornerstone for its new wing. Upon the completion of the extension in 1999, the Home’s capacity grew from 65 to 105 extended care beds. Having the Home close to the families and familiar landmarks of Toronto’s Chinatown was an early priority for the Foundation. By this time, the Home was also serving as a convenient medical centre for seniors residing in the area and offered a day program for those who wished to live at home. Mon Sheong would broaden its impact with its Chinese meals on wheels service, ensuring that seniors who lived independently could also enjoy nutritious meals fitting their tastes.
After that, the Foundation actively sought new ways to realize its dream. In 2000, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care granted Mon Sheong permission to construct two new long-term care centres. The Mon Sheong Richmond Hill Long-Term Care Centre added 192 care beds in 2003 while the Mon Sheong Scarborough Long-Term Care Centre entered into operation in 2004, providing 160 care beds for seniors and individuals with long-term care needs. Combined with the 105 care beds at the Mon Sheong Home for the Aged, the Foundation was now providing a total of 457 care beds within the Greater Toronto Area.
All three of these facilities provide culturally appropriate care services for seniors, physically or mentally disabled individuals, and those with dementia. The around-the-clock nursing care helps to minimize any issues arising from delayed medical attention, and a robust security protocol ensures that all the residents receive a high degree of protection. The staff and management of the homes meet regularly with the residents’ families to enhance communication and discuss the conditions and needs of the residents.
In 2017, Mon Sheong’s three long-term care centres and adult day program each received CARF’s Three-Year Accreditation once again, the highest level of accreditation by the reputable international accreditor of health and human services. This achievement demonstrates the Foundation’s continued commitment to its residents and families as well as its ability to keep up with the international standard.
Around the world, the aging population is an undeniable phenomenon, and the demand for long-term care services is steadily increasing. Today, there are more than 4,300 elderly Chinese Canadians waiting to be admitted into one of Mon Sheong’s long-term care homes; the average wait time is between three and five years. For these seniors, this can be a very long and arduous process.