The province shared more details about a $224-million, 306-bed West Shore communities long-term care residence Thursday.
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said the new three-storey facility, to which the province is contributing $157 million and the Capital Regional Hospital District $69 million, has entered the procurement phase.
“We know that we need to substantially improve care in the community, but that regardless of that we’re going to need a significant increase in long term care beds,” said Dix.
Island Health owns and operates 811 long-term care beds which increases to 2,170 if contracted beds are included.
“So when you’re talking about an increase of 306, that’s dramatic,” said Dix.
“This will be one of the most significant, in terms of numbers, long-term care projects that we have ever built on Vancouver Island,” said Dix, “and 306 recognizes a response to the needs of the community, but also represents a significant step in building out publicly owned and operated long-term care beds.”
There’s about 29,000 publicly funded long-term care beds in the province, 31 per cent of which are publicly owned.
The long-term care home will be on a two-hectare site, purchased by the Capital Regional Hospital District for $8 million in 2021, and will be located near the corner of Metchosin Road and Latoria Boulevard in the Royal Bay area of Colwood.
Island Health will lease the land and build, own and operate the new facility.
The care home will include a hospice unit and a specialized unit for younger adults who require long-term care.
An adult day program will allow people to live independently in the community while receiving services to support their well-being and health, said the province.
There will be hairdressing and therapy services, and a bistro for residents of the building and adjacent 37-space child care facility.
“We know that we need to take and keep and respect and recruit long-term care staff, whether they be medical professionals, such as doctor and nurses, health sciences professionals, or health-care workers who have been at the centre of our COVID-19 response and whose role in long-term care was … fundamental during the pandemic,” said Dix.
Dix called the project “historic” and said it has the support of Metchosin, Colwood, Langford, Sooke, View Royal, and Esquimalt.
Over the past five years, the province says it has invested about $2 billion to improve care for seniors, including investments in primary care, home health, long-term care and assisted living.
In a report last month, B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie said some low-income seniors in the province are prematurely entering long-term care facilities rather than being able to age in their homes because of the expense of home support.
She called on the province to eliminate or drastically reduce home-support fees for seniors within the year, saying most provinces don’t charge for home support, and of those that do, B.C. is the most expensive.
Dix said that how the province deals with home-care payments is an issue that the seniors advocate has raised before. He argues a significant majority of people get home care for free now.
“The issue is how we broaden access because it’s an important issue in long-term care as well,” said Dix. “We’re going to see an increase in the number of people who need long-term care. One way to address that of course is to enable people to live at home and that means expanding the capacity of the system, not just issues around how and who pays, but to expand the capacity of the public system. And that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
Former premier John Horgan, MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca, said the West Shore area is growing immensely, and as more people live and age there, more health support services are needed to ensure seniors have the care they need. Colwood Mayor Doug Kobayashi said the announcement is the culmination of years of work and preparation by the city, its West Shore neighbours, the CRD, Island Health and the province.
“It represents a huge step in the right direction for improving access to health care on the West Shore, and an opportunity for more seniors to age in the community they know and love, with dignity,” he said.
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