B.C. boosts seniors care beds for Comox Valley

The Comox Valley will soon see the addition of more than 100 permanent long-term and end-of-life care beds, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said.

“It’s a massive and significant investment in seniors in the Comox Valley,” Dix said.

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Construction of a new care home, called Ocean Front Village, is to start this year and be completed in 2020. It will be in the 2800-2900 block of Cliffe Avenue, beside the Courtenay Riverway Heritage Walk.

“A lot of seniors in the Comox Valley are in need of long-term care beds,” Dix said.

Ocean Front Village will include 120 residential care beds and six hospice beds. Thirty-one of the residential care beds and four hospice beds are being relocated from other facilities. The facility will offer full-spectrum care, providing medical assistance in dying.

It will be built and operated by Golden Life Management Corp.

“This announcement is just going to change lives,” said Courtenay-Comox NDP MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard.

Isobel Mackenzie, B.C.’s seniors advocate, called the announcement a “good thing.”

“That is an area lacking in beds,” she said, adding that the new facility will allow people to remain the Comox-Courtenay area as they age.

Also in the Comox Valley, the Providence Residential and Community Care Society — an entity formed by Providence Health Care — will take ownership of the St. Joseph’s site in Comox on April 1. It has an agreement to work with Island Health on a potential redevelopment plan.

The proposed “campus of care” would make permanent 21 temporary residential care beds and three respite beds, add 10 new residential care beds, and replace 116 existing residential care beds at The Views residential care facility. The facility will specialize in providing dementia and respite care.

Dix said the two projects will help create care that is flexible and responsive for people with dementia and complex health issues. “Our government is taking action to make sure the needs of frail, elderly seniors with complex conditions are met across the region,” he said.

Dix said the government is also working to increase the number of direct-care hours seniors receive in residential care homes in B.C., with the aim of reaching an average 3.36 hours of care, per resident, each day by 2021. Residents received an average of 3.11 hours of care each day in 2016.

Mackenzie has issued reports critical of the province’s inability to meet this benchmark, set by the B.C. Liberals, but said the current government is “rolling out the money” and she expects the hours will be funded and monitored to ensure they are delivered.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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