Graphic rendition of proposed dementia village.

Former Comox hospital turning into Vancouver Island’s first ‘dementia village’

Island Health inks deal to transform St. Joseph’s Hospital into groundbreaking $52.6 million facility

Island Health has signed a project development agreement with Providence Living to build and operate Vancouver Island’s first dementia village.

The new a 156-bed facility will be built on the site of the existing The Views long-term care home and the former St. Joseph’s General Hospital, in Comox.

“As a resident of the Comox Valley for the past 30 years, I’ve seen the increased need for seniors’ care, and I’ve heard from people looking for choices in long term care homes to meet their specific holistic needs,” said Ronna Rae Leonard, parliamentary secretary for seniors and MLA for Courtenay-Comox. “This innovative dementia village will help seniors experiencing dementia continue to have a good and dignified quality of life.”

The announcement brings to fruition a vision first unveiled by Providence Residential & Community Care Services Society (former name of Providence Living), in January of 2019.

RELATED: Vancouver Island to get its first publicly funded dementia village

The dementia village will feature 148 publicly-funded long-term care beds and eight publicly funded respite beds. Once completed, the dementia village will replace the existing beds at The Views long-term care home, which is on the existing site.

“We are very pleased to take this next step in fulfilling our mandate to provide innovative seniors care by building a long-term care home modeled on the concepts of a dementia village,” said Jane Murphy, president and CEO of Providence Living. “The Views at St. Joseph’s has a long history in Comox, and we are committed to seeking community input to ensure we best meet local needs. We look forward to continuing our work with Island Health to advance our shared goal of helping seniors in the Comox Valley live to their full potential.”

The Comox Valley Record has reached out to Island Health for an update on the future of the medical laboratories currently operating on that site.

North Island College is also currently using space at the former hospital, for its Health Care Assistant, and Early Childhood Care and Education programs. The Record has also reached out to NIC for comment.

Main features of the dementia village will include:

• Small, self-contained households of 12 residents where each resident will have their own room and bathroom, leading to heightened infection control in a modern space

• A social model of resident-directed care for people with dementia

• Fostering free movement of people with dementia within a home and village setting

• Ensuring resident involvement in everyday activities within the household or the wider, secure village

• Focusing on individualized smaller groupings; cultural bonds, friendships, social activities

• Emphasizing daily life and sense of belonging – involving residents with food preparation, cooking, laundry

• Amenities for residents and community that include community gardens, child daycare, Island Health-funded adult day programs, and a community space, art studio, bistro and chapel

VIDEO: Inside Canada’s first dementia village, opening summer of 2019 in Langley

Construction of the dementia village is estimated to cost $52.6 million. Island Health will provide annual operational funding to meet the Province’s target of 3.36 direct care hours per resident day. Providence Living has already begun the redevelopment planning process, with a goal of starting construction in spring or summer 2021.

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Graphic design of a dementia village, which is planned for Comox. File photo

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