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Innovative care facility to offer dementia patients community, freedom

Russell Hixson
Innovative care facility to offer dementia patients community, freedom
PROVIDENCE HEALTHCARE — A rendering shows the design of a groundbreaking facility being built on Vancouver Island to care for long-term dementia patients.

Shovels are in the ground for a state-of-the-art long-term dementia care facility on Vancouver Island.

The innovative project is the first of its kind for Canada.

Providence Living Place, Together by the Sea is being built on the site of the existing The Views long-term care home and the former St. Joseph’s General Hospital.

In February 2020, Island Health signed a project development agreement with Providence Living to redevelop a care community to replace The Views on the 3.4 acre site. The new care home will include 155 publicly funded beds and one private pay bed.

The dementia care village will offer a new care and staffing model called Home for Us. Care will shift from the traditional model of care to a new social/relational model that integrates a person-centered approach to care.

Providence Living Place, Together by the Sea 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. 

The facility will also feature a child care centre to foster intergeneration connection at the new care village.

Art Reitmayer, a principal and partner at Field and Martin Associates, is the project’s development consultant. He explained the project team looked to projects in Europe, like Hogewey in the Netherlands, which attempts to create freedom and community for dementia patients.

Instead of using fences or other obvious barriers to keep residents inside, the Together by the Sea uses the building itself to enclose a large courtyard.

“The residents can come and go from the households, wander through the garden and spend some time outdoors as one would normally do,” said Reitmayer. “But they can still be secure – not by fences but by the rest of the village. It’s a much friendlier, more relaxed environment.”

The team looked at the region’s changing design guidelines for care which are shifting towards a more “household” model where smaller groups of residents have their own kitchen, laundry and living areas rather than larger communal ones.

Reitmayer explained Providence wanted to push this resident-focused model with its new design.

The building will be one continuous building that is a series of households. There are 13 households between the two floors and they form ring around the courtyard. On the ground level there is a bistro, hair salon, art room, outdoor kitchen and more.

“Oftentimes you go to a care home and the typical green space is really a walking loop with a couple of benches,” said Reitmayer. “This is really designed to be more of an environment where you can take your family out. It is really going to be reminiscent of what it is like to live in your own house.”

The design also takes accessibility issues into account.

Reitmayer noted great effort has been made to ensure walkways, doors and different floors are accessible for everyone. Even sharp edges on planters have been designed to be more rounded for safety.

 “We need to mindful that many seniors in care are in a wheelchair or use a walker, so you want to make sure there is nothing significant in terms of grade or tripping hazards,” said Reitmayer.

Crews are currently putting in footings and foundations. They are also working to level out the site’s partial slope for the courtyard. Work is expected to wrap up in early 2024.

“When this opens it’s going to be a leadership step for the province,” said Reitmayer, who added Providence will use the facility to research and evaluate the effectiveness of the concept.

Follow the author on Twitter @RussellReports.


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