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Catholic Vancouver Jan. 31, 2019

Providence speeds up dementia care timeline

By Agnieszka Ruck

This concept drawing shows what the new dementia village in Comox could look like. Providence Health Care plans to build two publicly-funded dementia villages in B.C. (Photo courtesy of Providence Health Care)

More details are out about Providence Health Care’s plans to expand care for people with dementia.

The Catholic non-profit health care society announced last year it would open a publicly-funded dementia village, inspired by a successful model of care in the Netherlands, on the former St. Vincent’s Hospital site in Vancouver.

Less than a year later, Providence announced it is transforming a wing of Holy Family Residence into an adapted dementia village, electing to offer this specialized care now instead of waiting until a new facility is built.

“Providence is not waiting to build the dementia village bricks and mortar to figure out how it will work here in British Columbia,” said Jo-Ann Tait, Providence corporate director of seniors care and palliative services.

Instead, the team “is activating various elements of the dementia villages now at Holy Family to see what it’s like, what works for this model in our local context and what doesn’t.”

That has meant increasing staff members available at night, renovations to give that section of the hospital a more home-like feel, and installing fencing and landscaping that will give residents with dementia easy, safe access to the outdoors.

Meanwhile, plans are still trudging along to build that dementia village a few kilometres away, on the old hospital site at Heather Street and West 33rd Avenue.

Tait also announced plans are underway to open a publicly-funded dementia village in Comox, where St. Joseph’s Hospital is set to be transferred to the hands of the newly-created Providence Residential and Community Care Services Society this April.

The Comox site will offer a home and local amenities designed for people living with dementia.

That 17-acre site will then be transformed into a dementia village also in keeping with the Dutch model, offering a community feel, easy access to the outdoors, on-site amenities including a grocery store, pub, and music room, for 150 or so residents.

“Comox has a critical need for seniors’ services, which is expected to increase over the next two decades significantly,” said Tait.

“The Alzheimer’s Society of B.C. says that in 15 years the number of Canadians living with dementia is expected to double. It makes the development of places like a dementia village in Vancouver and Comox more important than ever.”

The villages planned for Vancouver and Comox are on track to be the first and second publicly-funded dementia care facilities of their kind in B.C., but Providence has yet to announce opening dates for either.

Tait said the PRCCSS is still working to secure funding for the projects.

One privately-funded dementia village is set to open in Langley sometime this year. Named The Village, it is said to be Canada’s first specialized care site to follow the Dutch model.