The Northwood Story

Northwood began as a social movement.

Edward L. RoachNorthwood traces its beginning to 1962, a time when many seniors lived below the poverty line, in substandard housing. With no voice and no means to advocate for change, they often lived in isolation and loneliness. They found a champion in Edward L. Roach.

Spurred into action by the plight of a senior he heard interviewed on the radio, Ed organized a community meeting at St Thomas Aquinas School in the south end of Halifax, where he spoke passionately about the plight of seniors and the need for affordable housing. The meeting ended with a call to action and the creation of the Halifax Senior Citizens’ Housing Corporation (HSCHC) with Ed Roach as president. Northwood was born.

Ed’s first project was Northwood Towers, a 73-unit, affordable housing project designed specifically for seniors. It offered a mix of studio and one-bedroom apartments. The Towers opened in 1967.

Northwood quickly became a voice for seniors in Nova Scotia and began exploring other ways to help seniors. In 1970, construction began on Northwood Manor which offered both apartment living and supervisory care to those needing help with daily living.

When construction began on Northwood Centre in 1976, a nine-story nursing home with a multi-purpose seniors’ centre on the ground floor, Northwood became Nova Scotia’s leading provider of programs and services for older adults across the continuum of care.

Part of Ed’s legacy is the number of “firsts” he contributed to the province’s list of continuing care services. Northwood was the first home for special care to offer in-house banking services and the first to provide a full-time pastoral care coordinator. Northwood was also the first to offer hospice and the first to provide a full-time physiotherapist. In 1977, they became the first home for special care to open a licensed bar and lounge, and later opened a dental clinic — another first. Northwood developed the concept for homecare services and began reaching out to the community to support seniors wishing to remain independent in their own homes. It introduced a personal emergency response service called Intouch and an Adult Day program to support clients and families dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. It offered flexible individualized programming while providing a day of respite for the caregiver.

Ed Roach retired in 1987, handing over a dynamic, caring organization committed to innovation and change. Thanks to funds raised by the Foundation, we opened the first multi-service community health centre in a long term care facility. In 2010, Ivany Place opened, incorporating a revolutionary design in the delivery of care for our elderly. More recently, we introduced a new Mental Health program called Seeds of Success to support both residents in Care and tenants in Retirement Living. It is a first for Nova Scotia. This year, we introduced a dementia program as part of our newly renovated Fitness Centre. And we are not finished yet!

When life changes, and society changes, Northwood leads the way; continuing to focus on people and their needs rather than the bottomline.