Oasis. A new senior driven model for social and health supports located within the buildings they live in, started in Kingston, now in Toronto. Oasis


Although relatively new in Canada, Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities have been helping people age-in-place for 30 years south of the border.  See previous blog on the Oasis Model in Kingston, Ontario.


In the mid 80’s Fredda Vladeck, a social worker working at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village, noted that the ER was pretty popular with seniors from the nearby Penn South high-rise complex. They were usually suffering from health scares that needed attention but not the hospital.

In collaboration with the Penn South Board of Directors, a program was developed based right in the Penn South complex. Fredda and a geriatric nurse practitioner were able to offer on-site help to seniors right there where they lived. If they needed further care that could also be organized at Penn South.

“Listen as Fredda Vladeck, noted expert, describes how NORCs meet the needs of residents and provide an enhanced quality of life”

Since that beginning, many different types of Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORC) have sprung up. Most have been formed in high-rise buildings with supportive management structures such as Co-ops.

Some of the features that meet the needs of seniors where they live:

  • Regular social activities
  • Regular on-site health consultation
  • Regular shared meals
  • Regular office hours for help navigating access to services and transportation


NORCs based in large apartment complexes are the most cost effective and easily facilitated. When seniors are spread out in single family homes, or even more difficult, rural homes, the expenses and complications can go up dramatically.


If you are interested in the origins of the “NORC” model, I recommend this article:

What Have We Learned From 30 Years of ‘Aging in Place’?


“A NORC is a community, neighborhood, or housing development that was originally designed for families but over time came to support older adults (aged 60 years or older). A NORC Supportive Service Program, on the other hand, is a partnership between a neighborhood and a housing development to help residents there age in place. Social workers, nurses, and other support staff help residents and caregivers as their needs change.”

“The NORC-SSP model represented a paradigm shift in aging services in 1986. It brought together health care and social supports, recognizing that both were necessary as people age. Ahead of its time, the NORC-SSP model was an early example of a “place-based” program. It brought together service delivery and community-building efforts. Rather than just focusing on reacting to individuals in crisis—”one hip fracture at a time”—it recognized that the community itself plays an important role in how residents aged.”




The article, below, Cities of the Old, describes several “NORC” models, their strengths and weaknesses.

I’ve added links to three of the models mentioned in this article

Two in Rochester, NY:

Ellison Park serving several apartment buildings housing Ukrainian Jewish seniors.
Fairport Baptist Homes non-denominational, non-profit serving suburban seniors where transportation is an everyday challenge.

And one in San Francisco:

On Lok Lifeways A unique Day Care Centre in San Francisco for Cantonese speaking seniors.



Cities of the Old

by Dana Goldstein

“Noyema and Zigmund Averbakh emigrated from Ukraine to Rochester in 1992, and feel they are lucky to live at Ellison Park. More than 100 seniors in the complex participate in a state-funded NORC program run by Jewish Family Services of Rochester. The owner of the complex, Eastwood Management, has donated an apartment to the NORC, which houses the Russian library and the office of Talya Brea, an energetic social worker who serves this senior population full time. Brea helps people navigate the insurance and Medicare bureaucracy and apply for food stamps; she acts as a translator and accompanies residents to medical appointments. She arranges a full schedule of activities each week, from yoga and English classes to shopping and theater excursions.”