Golden Life’s Garden View Village in Kimberley / Photo by the Kimberley Bulletin
Providence, Golden Life get new Comox Valley long-term beds
This article will be updated with additional location reactions to the news as it comes in
Golden Life Management Corporation and Providence Residential Care Community society will share the Comox Valley’s 151 long-awaited additional residential care beds.
Minister of Health Adrian Dix made the announcement at the Florence Filberg Centre in Courtenay this morning. Local MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard also attended.
Golden Life, a Cranbrook-based company, will build 120 residential care beds and six hospice beds on property in Courtenay. The hospice beds include two new beds and the four existing beds that will move from The Views at St. Joseph.
Golden Life currently operates 13 seniors facilities; 10 in the British Columbia Kootenay region and three in Alberta. A fourth Alberta location will open soon.
Construction of the new Comox Valley facility will begin this summer and is expected to complete before the end of 2020.
The newly-created Providence Residential Care Community Society, which assumes ownership April 1 of The Views and the 17-acre St. Joseph’s property at the top of Comox Hill, will receive 31 beds, plus four respite beds.
They consist of the 21 temporary beds that Island Health opened at the former acute care hospital, which now become permanent, and an additional 10 new beds. The Views will convert the existing four hospice beds to respite beds.
“In addition to the RFP process, Providence Residential and Community Care Society … has an agreement to work with Island Health on a potential campus of care redevelopment plan,” according a Ministry of Health news release this morning.
The Views currently operates 116 residential care beds, which will be redeveloped to current standards as part of the agreement.
PRCC Vice-Chair Chris Kelsey, of Comox, could not say when redevelopment of the St. Joe’s property will begin.
Celeste Mullin, vice-president, Golden Life Management Corp. said, “We are grateful for the opportunity to work with the Minister of Health, Island Health and Comox Valley Hospice Society to bring exemplary housing, care and services to the Comox Valley. Our villages are more than bricks and mortar. They are vibrant and dynamic communities that support each person’s unique beliefs, values and wishes affording them the opportunity to direct and live their best quality of life.”
Chris Kelsey, chair of the St. Joseph’s board of directors, gave this statement to Decafnation.
“This announcement is a watershed moment for St. Joseph’s and our community. Over the past five or more years, we have been working hard planning a future role for the St. Joseph’s site that best serves the needs of our community. Our Board, management team, and staff are extremely grateful for this opportunity. This announcement allows PRCC and us, in partnership with Island Health, to take very concrete steps to implement our ambitious plans and to revolutionize the care that we provide to our most vulnerable citizens. We have always considered it to be an amazing privilege to serve our community, and we look forward to the hard work ahead and to the continuation of our mission.”
Who is Golden Life?
Golden Life’s founding history makes it an interesting choice to build the Comox Valley much-needed and twice-delayed long-term care beds.
In the 1990s, Cranbrook construction company owner, Endre Lillejord, tried to find housing for his mother that “supported independence and dignity,” but such facilities were not common then.
So Lillejord directed his Golden Life Construction company to build the facility he envisioned for his mother. He called it Joseph Creek Village, and his mother moved in with the first wave of residents in 1998.
The Comox Valley announcement is part of the Health Ministry’s $240 million three-year plan “to increase the direct care seniors receive in residential care homes in communities and across the province.”
Dix has set a target of 3.36 care hours per-resident-day, on average across health authorities, by 2021.
Good news for caregivers, nurses
Today’s announcement brings some good news for Comox Valley Hospital workers.
Island Health opened the temporary beds at St. Joe’s, called Mountain View, to ease serious overcapacity issues at the Comox Valley Hospital. Recently, there were more than 200 admitted patients in the hospital, which was designed for a maximum of 153 patients. That has stressed hospital staff.
Most of the extra patients no longer need acute care, but due to the current shortage of long-term care beds, they have nowhere to go.
The announcement is also good news for some family caregivers.
The shortage of long-term care and respite beds has caused problems for at-home caregivers, many of whom are exhausted and in crisis. The lack of available, publicly-funded beds has forced many family members to care for their loved ones beyond their capacity to do so.
Island Health issued a Request for Proposal for 70 new long-term care beds three years ago, but cancelled it a year later, and issued a new RFP last year.
Not everyone pleased
Today’s announcement hasn’t quelled the concerns of several caregiver groups in the Comox Valley, who fear the new beds won’t be enough.
“Very pleased to see the government finally take action on the crying need of two years ago,” caregiver Delores Broten told Decafnation.”But the need continues to grow and by the time these beds are ready, we will ned as many again.
Caregivers also fear a private operator will run a low-budget operation and eventually sell to an even larger private corporation with negative consequences for patients and their families.
They point to Retirement Concepts, a Canadian-owned company purchased by the Chinese insurance company Anbang in 2017, and later seized by the Chinese government over allegations of fraud.
Retirement Concepts ran 21 facilities from Quebec to BC, including the Comox Valley Seniors Village and Casa Loma, an independent living facility, where workers have been on strike.
Another source told Decafnation this morning that Comox Valley Seniors Village has been running without a Director of Care or a General Manager since September, and that there have been at least five complaints to the provincial licensing officer about the lack of supervision.
The source also said Seniors Village is literally rationing the jam for residents.
Golden Life employees gave the company mixed reviews on the Indeed Canada website. Most unfavorable reviews mentioned understaffing and wage issues. But the company got better reviews from five people who commented on another employee-review site called glassdoor.ca.
QUICK FACTS FROM BC HEALTH MINISTRY
— Residential care homes offer seniors 24-hour professional supervision and care in a safe and secure environment.
— Through the $240-million investment over three years, the average direct care hours in
Contact:B.C. will increase from 3.11 per-resident day in 2016, to 3.24 by 2019, reaching 3.36 by
— Progress has been made with almost 270,000 more care hours being provided throughout the province by converting part-time and casual staff to full time.
— New funding of $48.4 million in 2018 will add more than one million hours of direct care.
For more information on increasing staffing in residential care homes, visit here
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