Setting a new benchmark for long-term care
Providence Living Place, Together by the Sea will give residents freedom to choose, move and connect
A full roster of podium guests, including BC Minister of Health Adrian Dix (centre) took part in a ceremonial nail-hammering at Monday’s Construction-Start Event, on the building site of Providence Living Place, Together by the Sea in Comox. Based on the concept of a dementia village, the project is slated to open in mid-2024 with a style of care that moves away from the traditional medical/institutional model toward a social/relational model of care emphasizes emotional and social connections, flexible routines, collaborative teams, and an environment that feels like home.
June 14, 2022 - A new kind of long-term care is coming to Comox and none too soon for the residents and families who are watching Providence Living Place, Together by the Sea rise on the former 14- acres site of St. Joseph’s Hospital, in Comox.
Yesterday, on Monday, June 13, a ceremonial swinging of hammers marked the official start of construction on the $52.6 million project will feature 156 beds in a state-of-the-art facility modelled on the concept of a dementia village. Providence Living Place, Together by the Sea will replace The Views, the obsolete long-term care facility that currently sits on the site.
And residents are counting the days until they can move in.
“Our loved ones watch the construction site daily, and all progress is met with excited chatter,” said Lynn Madill, whose mother, Eva, has lived at The Views for four years, and currently share her room with three others. “Everyone is looking forward to moving into their new home. I know I speak for all residents and families when I say we’re all thrilled to see construction starting on this project.”
Founded as a non-profit in 2017 by Providence Health Care, Providence Living will finance, construct, own and operate the new long-term care home, with contributions totalling $54 million from the Province through Island Health. With a mandate to re-envision long-term care, Providence Living’s first project is in Comox, but others will follow in Vancouver and, eventually, beyond.
“Our construction start today represents a new vision for long-term care in BC and will advance the provincial direction for long-term care improvements,” said Candace Chartier, president and CEO, Providence Living. “We are grateful to the support of our partners, including St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation and Comox Valley Healthcare Foundation, which will enable Providence Living to create environments that help seniors continue to live meaningful lives even when they become too frail to live independently.”
B.C.’s Minster of Health, Adrian Dix, and Providence Living CEO Candace Chartier a swing to mark the ceremonial start of construction at Providence Living Place, Together by the Sea, in Comox on Monday.
Providence Living Place, Together by the Sea’s innovative physical design around a secure, one-acre courtyard will offer a new model of long-term care based on the de Hogeweyk dementia village in the Netherlands.
When complete in 2024, it will consist of small, self-contained households of 12 private rooms each with its own bathroom. Care staff will be common to each household, fostering interpersonal connection between residents and caregivers.
Intergenerational connections will be fostered on-site as well, thanks to a $1.2 million provincial grant from ChildCareBC’s New Spaces Fund. Operated by the Comox Valley Children’s Day Care Society, “Joyful Journeys” will provide care for 32 children whose parents work at the new facility as well as those from the wider community.
Calling Providence Living Place, Together by the Sea “a new benchmark” for how to provide care, BC’s Minister of Health, Adrian Dix, said the new build and its new model of care will show that there is a better way to provide long-term care.
“This project is about allowing all people to live their lives to the fullest extent of their capabilities,” he said at Monday’s event. “We can do better, together, and that’s what we’re doing here.”
The K’omoks Nation welcomed attendees to Monday’s event. K’omoks members have been instrumental partners in the design of Providence Living Place, Together by the Sea. Plans for an Indigenous sacred space has resulted from this work, and will hold a position of prominence in the one-acre garden of the new care village.
Construction of seniors’ village takes another step forward
December 14, 2021 – The next step toward building BC’s first publicly funded long-term care home based on the concepts of a dementia village took an important step forward in December with demolition of the former St. Joseph’s emergency department.
Demolition paves the way for Providence Living Place, Together by the Sea. Construction of the 156-bed dementia village will take place on the site of the existing The Views long-term care home and the former St. Joseph’s General Hospital. Once completed, the village will replace the existing beds at The Views. Construction will begin in 2022.
“This truly begins our investment in hope,” said Candace Chartier, President and CEO of Providence Living, the new non-profit health care organization established by Providence Health Care to redefine seniors’ care in British Columbia. “We are so very close to showing BC and the rest of Canada how publicly funded seniors’ care must be provided to create whole communities where people want to live.”
A social model of care and living
Providence Living Place, Together by the Sea will change long-term care from an institutionalized medical model to one that fosters a home-like environment where staff and residents become friends in a culture where families, children, pets and visitors become interwoven into the fabric of life throughout the facility.
The village will have small, self-contained households/communities of 12 private rooms, each with their own bathroom and a small group of staff that will be common to each household, supporting heightened infection control in a modern space.
The innovative design will support a philosophy of care that promotes freedom of movement, safe access to the outdoors and interaction with the community, including opportunities for intergenerational connections.
“Not only are we building a new facility, but Providence Living is also creating a place that will break new ground in the way that care is provided,” said Chartier. “This will be an inclusive facility where people can find meaning and belonging in their later years, even when they may become too frail to live independently.”
A day of celebration at the Views
K’omoks First Nation hosted a cultural blessing that recognized new beginnings in a new space that will be created in Comox for seniors and elders
October 13, 2021 - September 30 was a special day for The Views at St. Joseph’s. Not only did we acknowledge our first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, but members of the K’omoks First Nation also hosted a cultural blessing on the site of what will become Providence Living, Together By the Sea.
According to K’omoks Councillor Kat Frank, Chief and Council suggested in 2020 that the grounds of the former St. Joseph’s be blessed prior to any changes made to the former structure and the sacred grounds it was built upon. Four residential school survivors also attended the blessing, giving the occasion special meaning.
“The blessing was held to acknowledge the history of the K’omoks people prior to any contact with European settlers,” said Coun. Frank. “It also acknowledged more recent times when St. Joseph’s was in full operation as our only hospital where many of our children were born, where many of our elders had passed, and where our families visited far-and wide-from the north for many medical appointments. The walls of the St. Joe’s have seen many tears of pure joy, sadness, and pain.”
The blessing preceded site preparation for Providence Living, Together By the Sea which will begin during the week of October 11, with our official start to construction slated for early spring 2022. During site preparation, the one-level building that formerly served as St. Joseph’s emergency department entrance will be demolished.
As Canada’s first dementia village, our new long-term care facility - Providence Living, Together by the Sea – will be a place where the emotional health of residents will be as important as their physical health. Providence Living will be moving care away from an institutional to move toward a social model of care.
“Our goal will be focused on merging quality medical care with an environment that promotes the enrichment of daily life of our residents,” said Candace Chartier, president and CEO, Providence Living. “It will also be a place that reflects the cultures and values of all the people who call the Comox Valley home.”
Added Coun. Frank: “The blessing is important work that identifies the new beginnings, and that a new space will be created for our seniors and elders. It will ensure that everyone who works on this piece of land is safe from harm and that all good things will keep everyone safe during the demolition phase through to completion of the new dementia village.”
The following are a few photos from the K’omoks First Nation cultural blessing:
K’omoks First Nation Councillor Kat Frank (foreground above) and community dancing together at the cultural blessing of the Providence Living, Together by the Sea development site, located of the grounds of the former St. Joseph’s Hospital. The blessing coincided with the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.
K’omoks First Nation Elders Chief Ernie Hardy and Yvon Savoie (front) take part in the cultural blessing, held September 30 on Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
K’omoks First Nation Elder Fernanda Pare, dancing, with drummers (behind) Namgis Chief Tyler Cranmer, Chief Robert Williams, and Kerry Frank (holding rattle), Hereditary Chief of the Komoks and Pentlatch.
Campbell River K’omoks First Nation band member, Averil Cranmer, dances in a whale blanket during the cultural blessing, held September 30.
Meet Candace Chartier, Providence Living’s new President and CEO
Improving seniors’ care is a personal mission for Chartier, an accomplished leader who has delivered results on many complex projects over her impressive career
September 16, 2021 - What began as a career in emergency and surgical nursing led to something that Providence Living’s new President and CEO, Candace Chartier, never envisioned as a new RN – a passion for improving seniors’ care.
Early in her career, after stints in the acute care sector, rehabilitation, community nursing, and aeromedical nursing fields, Chartier landed a nursing placement in a central Ontario care home “and fell in love with it.”
“Seniors are our history-makers and everything we have today is because of them,” she says. “They deserve to have the best care possible now that they’re entering the final chapters of their lives.”
Chartier will take the helm at Providence Living during an exciting time for the organization as it moves through detailed design and operational planning to develop B.C.’s first publicly funded long-term care home based on the concepts of a dementia village.
Chartier takes over from Fred Horne, Interim President and CEO, who returns to the Board of Directors.
Prior to her arrival at Providence Living, Chartier served as the Chief Seniors’ Advocate and Strategic Partnerships Officer at Southbridge Care Homes in Ontario. In this role, she led and implemented the organization’s ongoing commitment to quality and care across its 37 care homes. Before this, Chartier served for seven years as CEO of the Ontario Long Term Care Association.
Re-envisioning seniors care -- both in the private and public sectors -- has motivated Chartier’s work, and personal experience is often the point from which meaningful change begins.
At Providence Living, for instance, Chartier will keep her father’s dementia journey “at the forefront,” using it to guide the reinvention of what long-term care could – and should --look like. And despite the tragedy brought to seniors’ care over the course of the pandemic, Chartier believes systemic change has never been more possible than when viewed against the shadow of COVID-19.
“There have been cracks in the foundation of our long-term care systems for years, but the pandemic turned them into crevasses,” she says. “Changes to seniors’ care often come slowly, but the world is our oyster right now, and if we can envision it, we will create it.”
The Views at St. Joseph’s fundraiser supports the Orange Shirt Society to expand Indigenous education
September 30, 2020 — Through their first-ever t-shirt sale fundraiser, staff at The Views at St. Joseph’s, operated by Providence Living, have come together to raise $675 for the Orange Shirt Society. This non-profit organization aims to educate Canadians on the history and impact of the residential school system and advocate for action on reconciliation.
It’s our personal responsibility as Canadians to learn about the historical, current, and ongoing colonization of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. It’s also our responsibility to be educated on the inequities Indigenous Peoples experience as a direct result of colonization, including in the health, education, economic, child welfare, and justice systems.
“Education is an important part of reconciliation,” said Jane Murphy, President & CEO of Providence Living. “By supporting the Orange Shirt Society to expand Indigenous education across Canada, our staff are encouraged to talk about what reconciliation means to them, share resources, and find other ways to take action.”
The date for Orange Shirt Day was chosen because it's the time of year children were taken from their homes and sent to residential schools. It's a day for survivors to be reaffirmed that they matter, as does everyone who has been affected.
The Views’ special orange t-shirts were designed by Indigenous artist Timothy Foster. Foster is Gitxsan from the house of Niisto in the Lax Seel clan, in northwest British Columbia. He created his design in remembrance of his late wife and son whom he lost in a span of six years.
“My late wife and I both understood how difficult it is to rid our future generation of the vicious cycles residential schools created in our families,” said Foster. “Having this design represent such an important cause I believe is very fitting, as it will help bring awareness to how every child matters, which she a had a deep and loving passion for — not only our children, but for all families and their children as well.”
The Views’ orange t-shirts were made by Indigenous Printing and Office Solutions, an Indigenous vendor reflecting a partnership between Naut'sa mawt Resources Group (NRG) and Staples Canada. Revenues from NRG-Staples support Indigenous communities in their efforts towards self-reliance, self-governance, connection to culture, and quality of life — now and for future generations.
“Many of our staff members have told me how important it is to honour the lives affected and lost through residential schools,” said Michael Aikins, Senior Operations Leader for The Views at St. Joseph's. “By supporting this national movement, our staff are encouraging each other, our residents, and their friends and families to take personal actions towards reconciliation, whether that's reading a book, starting a conversation, or donating time or money. This is contributing to a stronger culture of awareness, diversity and inclusion for our organization.”
With the voices and resiliency of Indigenous Peoples top of mind, staff at The Views are taking the time to think about what has and hasn't changed since the last residential school closed its doors in 1996.
The trauma left behind for generations of Indigenous Peoples across Canada is still felt to this day as survivors and their families continue their healing. This includes Phyllis Webstad, author and Executive Director of the Orange Shirt Society, who was sent to a residential school at six years old. Her personal experience of having her shiny orange shirt taken away from her at age six upon arrival at a residential school is what inspired Orange Shirt Day.
As an organization founded on the value of respect and the tradition of social justice, Providence Living affirms that Indigenous children, people and communities matter. They will continue to look for new ways to support Indigenous staff, businesses and communities in building a more inclusive future for everyone in Comox, in B.C., and across the country.
Providence Living and Island Health Announce Comox Dementia Village Project Agreement
May 25, 2020 — Seniors in the Comox Valley will soon have access to innovative long-term care, with a particular focus on those living with dementia.
Providence Living is thrilled to have signed a project development agreement with Island Health to build and operate a 156-bed dementia village in the Comox Valley.
Established by Providence Health Care in 2017, Providence Living seeks to redefine our collective expectation of seniors’ care in British Columbia.
In 2019, The Views at St. Joseph’s in Comox – a 145-bed seniors care home – joined Providence Living with the goal of developing a dementia village and other seniors’ community care services at the site. It is envisioned that the operation of all Providence care homes will eventually be managed by Providence Living, to create an organization that is solely focused on seniors care. Further dementia villages and seniors' long-term care services are planned for Providence’s St. Vincent’s Heather and Holy Family sites.
“Our government continues to take action to ensure seniors, especially those with complex care needs, are receiving the best care possible,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Friends and family should be confident knowing a loved parent or grandparent with dementia is in a safe environment, which is why I am pleased to see this project take another step towards meeting the needs of seniors in the Comox Valley.”
“We know there will be increased demand for dementia care in the years ahead and Island Health is committed to preparing our communities to meet those needs,” said Leah Hollins, Island Health Board Chair. “We are so excited to see Vancouver Island’s first publicly funded dementia village be built in the Comox Valley.”
The dementia village in Comox will feature 148 publicly funded long-term care beds and eight publicly funded respite beds. It will be built on the site of the existing The Views long-term care home and the former St. Joseph’s General Hospital. Once completed, the dementia village will replace the existing beds at The Views.
“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.”
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.
“Island Health is proud to be on the forefront of meeting the evolving and increasingly complex needs of seniors,” said Mark Blandford, Island Health’s Executive Director of Primary Care & Seniors Health, Priority Populations & Initiatives. “Partnering with organizations that are taking the lead on developing new and innovative approaches to dementia care will ensure the people we care for have their needs met in the best possible way.”
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 2021.
“As a resident of Comox for the past 25 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.”
Island Health and Providence Living are committed to consulting and engaging with stakeholders and the community as the project moves ahead.
Providence Living is the new name for Providence Residential and Community Care Services Society (PRCC).
The Views at St. Joseph's Joins Providence Family
January 2019 — The Views at St. Joseph’s, a 117-bed seniors’ care home in Comox, BC, has reached an agreement to become a part of the Providence family.
Specifically, The Views has reached an agreement with Providence Residential & Community Care Services Society (PRCC) to transfer the ownership and operations of St. Joseph’s to PRCC – a new entity formed by Providence in 2017 as a strategic priority to enable the renewal and growth of our seniors services and residential care homes. The transition of ownership has been initiated and is targeted for completion on April 1, 2019.
The Views, a non-profit Catholic health care organization like Providence, was previously owned and operated by the Bishop of Victoria.
PRCC’s amalgamation and ownership of The Views will mean its staff will become PRCC employees and Medical Staff will be privileged through PRCC. The process for that transition for staff and medical staff has been initiated and is targeted for completion by April 1, 2019.
“This is an exciting time in our organization,” says Deborah Mitchell, Vice President, Seniors Care, Organizational Strategy and Partnerships. “The Ministry of Health has identified seniors care as one of its key strategic priorities and challenged BC health authorities and organizations to meet the challenge creatively and effectively. We are recognized as leaders of compassionate, resident-centred care for seniors in BC.”
For the past three years, Providence has done comprehensive work through the “Residential Care For Me” and “Megamorphosis” initiatives in developing and implementing innovative models of care in partnership with residents and families.
“Establishing PRCC positions us to focus specifically on seniors care and gives us the flexibility to find partners to enable the development of communities of care we envision,” says Mitchell. “That means moving forward with our renewal at the St. Vincent’s Heather site for our planned dementia village and supporting seniors community services and housing solutions.”
“The change in ownership of The Views to PRCC also accelerates and boosts our plans to redevelop The Views into an innovative, seniors-focused community of care,” says Michael Aikins, Administrative Officer, The Views. “With PRCC as owner, we aspire to build a community with various levels of housing and care options that support seniors, and their spouses and partners, to age in place on a single campus – ranging from independent living, long-term care and specialized dementia care and neighbourhoods.”
PRCC has its own Society and Board members, who are steering the continuing planning and engagement work to achieve the key milestones required in the coming year.
“Our founding congregations of sisters always made the elderly and seniors a key focus of the compassionate and socially just care they provided,” says Fiona Dalton, President & CEO, PHC and PRCC. “And throughout our organization’s history, we have responded to new challenges and the ever-changing needs of our communities with boldness and foresight. PRCC is another, forward-looking stage in that development. It puts us on a path of renewal and leadership, strengthening and revitalizing our seniors care Mission.”
Providence Advances Seniors Care Commitment with Plans for Second Dementia Village
January 16, 2019 — Thanks to its recently announced partnership with Island Health and the Ministry of Health, Providence Residential & Community Care (PRCC) Services Society is one step closer to achieving its vision of developing a dementia village in Comox on Vancouver Island.
The proposed Comox dementia village will be separate from, and in addition to, the one announced last February for Heather Street in Vancouver. The Comox dementia village will be constructed at the site of the existing St. Joseph’s Hospital. The 17-acre site that overlooks the ocean is currently home to The Views, a residential care home, and the former St. Joseph’s General acute care hospital that was vacated with the opening of the new North Island Hospital. Official transfer of ownership and operations of the 117-bed care home and four hospice beds to PRCC will take place this spring.
The Dutch model for seniors care – known as the dementia village in De Hogeweyk, Netherlands – will serve as the vision for the dementia village at St. Joseph’s/The Views in Comox as it will for the Heather Street site in Vancouver.
PRCC is a new entity created by Providence Health Care to support and enable their future vision for seniors’ services, including the renewal of their residential care homes.
“Providence Residential and Community Care is grateful to Island Health and the Ministry of Health for giving us additional beds at St. Joseph’s Hospital, allowing us capacity to create a dementia village. With this expansion to Vancouver Island, PRCC has taken the next step to fulfilling its mandate to become a leader in seniors care, which other health care organizations and jurisdictions may eventually emulate,” said Jo-Ann Tait, Providence corporate director, seniors care and palliative services.
The Comox dementia village will provide care and treatment for people with dementia through a variety of means. Upholding the spirit of compassion of the founding Catholic Sisters, Providence looks after some of Vancouver’s most vulnerable populations in its residential care homes, and PRCC will ensure it continues to do so at its envisioned dementia villages.
PRCC aspires to build a community in Comox with various levels of housing and care options that support seniors, and their spouses and partners, to age in place on a single campus – ranging from independent living, long-term care and specialized dementia care and neighbourhoods.
The Comox dementia village will feature many aspects of the Dutch model such as smaller households for residents who share a common bond with each other. The entire perimeter is expected to be secured using creative structure and technology so that residents can easily venture outside as much as they like.
PRCC’s goal is to create vibrancy and an authentic sense of community with amenities that are actual destinations and points of interest for people and their families to enjoy, including a grocery store, pub, and music room.
Research has shown that person-centred dementia care not only optimizes quality of life for people with dementia, it can actually foster positive outcomes for people afflicted by a disease normally steeped in fear and confusion.
The Comox dementia village is only one component of an entire master site plan with specifics to be determined going forward. PRCC will identify those needs through engagement, consultation, and working closely with stakeholders, partners and the community.
In addition to the dementia village, there are opportunities to build and provide numerous other services and programs on the campus to meet local, community and regional needs. These services may include more housing solutions, respite care, bathing and meal programs, primary care services, youth services, and Indigenous health services.
Comox has a critical need for seniors’ services now which is expected to increase over the next two decades. Alzheimer’s and dementia patients present the most urgent housing and care needs. In 15 years, the number of Canadians living with dementia is expected to nearly double, making the development of dementia villages like the ones planned for St. Joseph’s in Comox and Heather Street in Vancouver more important than ever.
Established in 2017, PRCC has its own society and board members who are steering the continuing planning and engagement work to achieve key milestones required in the coming year.
The Views at St. Joseph’s is a Catholic health care organization previously owned and operated by the Bishop of Victoria. PRCC’s ownership of The Views will mean its staff will become PRCC employees and medical staff will be privileged through PRCC as of April 1, 2019.
To view the Ministry of Health announcement, go to: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2019HLTH0009-000040.
PRCC Officially Established
June 2017 — Providence Health Care’s (PHC) visionary plan to become provincial leaders and innovators in seniors care surpassed a major milestone, with the PHC Society and Board formally approving the establishment of the Providence Residential and Community Care (PRCC) Services Society – a new and separate society to be comprised of PHC’s residential homes and elder care services.
The decision, made at the June 14th PHC Annual General Meeting, came after a 10-month-long due-diligence process to determine whether a new society can effectively operate, thrive and achieve our exciting seniors care vision through redevelopment and renewal of our care homes.
PRCC has its own Society and Board members, who steer the continuing planning and engagement work to achieve PRCC’s goals.
Those goals include amalgamating into PRCC other seniors and residential care partners and homes, including The Views at St. Joseph’s and Providence Health Care’s seniors/elder care homes and services.
These homes and elder care services and staff will be transferred to PRCC in the future, after more engagement and comprehensive transition planning is done with staff, unions, residents, families and health partners.
The Ministry of Health has identified seniors care as one of its key strategic priorities and challenged BC health authorities and organizations to meet the challenge creatively and effectively.
Over the past year and a half, Providence’s elder care program and residential redevelopment planning team have made great strides in developing exciting, innovative and resident- and family-centered solutions for such future seniors’ communities of care.
Many staff, residents and families have contributed their ideas toward the planning and great momentum has been built toward developing “Dementia Villages” and communities of care for seniors.
Providence’s founding congregations of sisters always made the elderly and seniors a key focus of the compassionate and socially just care they provided. And throughout the organization’s history, Providence has responded to new challenges and the ever-changing needs of our communities with boldness and foresight.
When formed in 2000, Providence Health Care was the latest iteration of that courage, bringing together separate Catholic Missions into our current Society.
PRCC is another, forward-looking stage in that development.
It puts PRCC on a path of renewal and leadership, strengthening and revitalizing its seniors care Mission.
It Takes a Village to Help People Live Well with Dementia
March 1, 2018 — A Dutch model for seniors care – known as the dementia village in De Hogeweyk, Netherlands – will serve as the vision for a major redevelopment in Vancouver to be led by Providence Residential and Community Care (PRCC).
The De Hogeweyk dementia village fosters free movement of people with dementia within a homey setting, and involvement of them in everyday activities within the household or the wider, secure neighbourhood. The former St. Vincent’s Hospital at Heather Street and West 33rd Avenue in Vancouver is the proposed site for the redevelopment.
Currently, Providence Health Care (PHC) is working on this new social model of resident-directed care for people with dementia. PHC is expected to transfer the planning and redevelopment to PRCC in the future, as the new Society becomes fully functional and operational. A clinical services plan for the Heather Street dementia village has been completed, along with a functional plan with drawings, in consultation with an architect.
The land designated for site development is being provided through the generosity of the Archdiocese of Vancouver.
The De Hogeweyk dementia village is viewed internationally as a hallmark of innovation in residential care of people living with dementia and has received media attention as a result. It is one of 16 elder care sites visited by planning staff during a five-country, information-gathering tour in Europe.
Jo-Ann Tait, the Providence’s corporate director of seniors care and palliative services who participated in the tour, says the Heather Street dementia village will emulate many aspects of the Dutch model. For example, it will focus on the establishment of smaller households for residents who share a common bond with each other, such as cultural or friendship-based.
The Heather Street dementia village will also see the return of regular, daily life for residents. Usually, when people with dementia enter residential care, they are relieved of the kinds of regular household routines and puttering about – from cooking to cleaning to sweeping the floor or making their beds – which are so often the cornerstone of home life and define one’s sense of belonging to it.
“We wonder why seniors sit in their chairs asleep and become disengaged with the world around them. Without normal life experiences, isolation and loneliness begin to creep in. And we know life experience is not about keeping residents busy to pass the time. It’s more than bingo and bowling,” said Tait.
As a result, residents will have access to kitchens where they can prepare food with and under the supervision of staff, as well as washers and dryers, possibly even clotheslines or drying racks.
The entire perimeter will be enclosed and secured using creative structure and layout as well as technology so that residents can easily venture outdoors. They will be encouraged to get outside as much and as often as possible, free of the traditional restraints, constraints and wander guards that have kept them confined to their chairs and indoors for most of their residential life.
PHC’s goal is to create vibrancy and an authentic sense of community with amenities that are actual destinations and points of interest for people and their families to enjoy, including a grocery store, pub, and child daycare.
In alignment with that goal is the intention to have the Heather Street dementia village also welcome the outside community into residential care. For too long, residential care homes have been areas where the community or visitors come by invitation only, if at all. In the dementia village, visitors will be able to drop by and become part of the community whether that means stopping in for a meal or renting spaces for music instruction or allowing kids to practice their instruments after school while nearby residents watch and listen.