Health Minister Adrian Dix and Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard announced improvements to local seniors care Wednesday at the Filberg Centre. Scott Stanfield photo

Health Minister Adrian Dix and Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard announced improvements to local seniors care Wednesday at the Filberg Centre. Scott Stanfield photo

Long-term care facility coming to Courtenay

Golden Life Management Corp. successful proponent

Island Health has announced that Golden Life Management Corp. will build and operate a new long-term care facility in the Comox Valley.

The Cranbrook-based company plans to start constructing the ocean-front village this year near the southern entrance to Courtenay. It will contain 126 publicly funded beds, including 120 care beds and two new hospice beds. Four hospice beds will move from The Views at St. Joseph’s to the new facility.

Island Heath anticipates the beds to be occupied by 2020. There will be options for palliative care and medical assistance in dying (MAiD).

“This is great news for seniors, but we know we need more residential care beds,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said Wednesday at an announcement at the Filberg Centre.

“It’s going to make a big difference to an awful lot of people,” added Ronna-Rae Leonard, MLA for Courtenay-Comox. “I am so thankful, and I know it means so much to so many elderly residents in our community, as well as their families. This announcement is going to change lives.”

Comox resident Ali Doi, 85, shared some words about the past 15 years while caring for her 87-year-old husband, who now lives at the new hospital in Courtenay. She was in burnout while he was home, and guilt-ridden after he moved.

“I am only one of so many — hundreds in the same position, the elderly struggling, caring for the elderly, to keep a loved one at home and provide care for all their needs,” Doi said. “Every caregiver I know has the same goal: keep your loved one at home as long as possible…I’m grateful that the extra long-term care beds will be opened, and I’m grateful that the transitional care beds were opened. Life is better for both of us. Unfortunately, there’s a large mass of others coming right behind us.”

Celeste Mullin, vice-president of Golden Life, says the facility will incorporate “innovative programming,” whereby residents will be treated as partners in care.

“We’re so happy that we’re going to get the beds,” said Paula Horky, president of the CV Hospice Society. “We’re grateful to Island Health for making sure this happens. Despite a lot of delays — that they weren’t responsible for – they pulled it off.”

Last March, Island Health had issued a request for proposals (RFP) for 120 long-term beds. Golden Life was one of several companies that submitted a bid. Originally, the RFP was for 70 beds.

Island Health issues new RFP for 120 long-term care beds in the Comox Valley

During the RFP process, Island Health made inroads with the Providence Residential & Community Care Services Society, formed by Providence Health Care, which takes ownership of St. Joseph’s April 1. A ‘campus of care redevelopment plan’ is to make 21 temporary care beds become permanent, and add up to 10 new care beds. Hospice beds that are in place will be converted to respite beds. This is in addition to the replacement of 116 care beds at The Views residential care facility.

“Our plan will initially focus on the most vulnerable seniors, those challenged by dementia and Alzheimer’s,” Providence president/CEO Fiona Dalton said.

“I think this represents a significant and long-term solution,” Dix added, noting the need for more people to work in care. “This is not the end of it. But just be clear, nobody truly wants to go into long-term care.”