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Developer on track to break ground for groundbreaking Comox seniors facility next month

‘(There’s an) urgent need to rethink the way we provide care to the … elderly population’: CEO
Demolition of the front of the old St. Joseph’s Hospital began Dec. 7. 2021. The site will become Providence Living’s new long-term care home in Comox - Providence Living Place, Together by the Sea - and will feature special design components to accommodate persons living with dementia. Black Press file photo

Set to provide a different — social — model of care for the aging population and those living with dementia, Providence Living’s dementia village in Comox is set to be completed in 2024.

That’s according to a team from the organization that provided an update on the long-term care facility set to be built at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Hospital site in Comox.

Candace Chartier, the organization’s new CEO, explained the pandemic has emphasized the “urgent need to rethink the way we provide care to the largely frail and elderly population.”

She added the current model of care in the country doesn’t meet the complex need of an aging population living with dementia and that senior care needs reinvention.

Providence is basing the new facility on a model from the Netherlands which they noted is the “gold standard” of a model of care, which makes the facility less like a hospital and more like a household.

“There’s room for a daycare to bring youth into the village,” said Sharon Parkes, the executive director, operations of Providence Living. “There will be a bistro, cafe and grocery store - there’s an opportunity for people to do normal activities you’d do doing the day like cooking and doing the laundry they’d like. We’re looking at social inclusion and to have the facility open to the community and neighbourhood.”

Chartier said the publicly-funded facility will cost $53 million to replace The Views currently on-site and will have 156 beds, with eight dedicated to respite, and rooms will be organized into small households of 12 people. There will also be a daycare with 32 childcare spaces.

Site preparation has already begun with the demolition of the former emergency room in December 2021. The site is expected to break ground in March of this year with the development of a master site plan of 14 acres to begin later in 2022.

Parkes explained in the Netherlands model, individuals fill in a survey that is based on likes and dislikes, and they built households around different concepts and interests such as sports, current events and lifestyles.

“I think it would be challenging with the system we have provincially … we don’t get to choose who comes to The Views. They get to choose who comes here. It will be challenging … but I think it’s something worth looking at. I’m not sure how it’s going to completely play out at the moment.”

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Erin Haluschak

About the Author: Erin Haluschak

Erin Haluschak is a journalist with the Comox Valley Record since 2008. She is also the editor of Trio Magazine...
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