Most of us – around 80 per cent – will end our days in our own homes, not in residential care. But for those who do, we believe our society wants that care to be quality care. So we can applaud St. Joseph’s Hospital’s plan to create care that follows the Eden Philosophy and addresses the three plagues among the elderly: loneliness, helplessness and boredom.
However, this plan will take some years to develop and in September 2017 a move is planned for all residents of St. Joseph’s to acute care beds in the new hospital. While those in residential care in Oceanview and Eagleview will stay where they are, there are approximately 55-60 seniors who are in the transition wing or classified as “alternate level of care” who are awaiting placement in residential care. The present information seems to be that these individuals will go into acute care beds in the new hospital, without appropriate recreation, social contact and physical surroundings such as are provided in residential care. Many of these individuals have significant problems with dementia and need more than a bed in a lockable room.
The logistics of keeping these individuals and support staff at St. Joe’s until residential care beds become available would not appear to be too daunting. The physical plant will have to stay open at St. Joe’s to provide heat to the Views. Food services section of St. Joe’s will have to stay open to provide meals for the Views. A section of St. Joe’s could stay open until new residential care beds come on stream – either through the building of new facilities on the St. Joe’s property (which apparently will not involve tearing down the hospital) or through other beds becoming licensed in the community – which, based on the present Island Health request for proposals, would appear to be sometime in 2019.
I speak on behalf of Comox Valley Elders Take Action, a local group that advocates for, among other things, quality care for the seniors in our Valley. The planned move to the acute care beds in the new hospital for seniors in St. Joe’s awaiting placement in residential care basically amounts to imprisonment. They deserve much better. We trust that this plan will be scrapped.