A group of healthcare leaders put their heads together in Kelowna, B.C. on Friday to create a new vision of long-term care homes in the province.
Daniel Fontaine, CEO of the B.C. Care Providers Association, said senior care homes are too often located on the fringes of communities, cut off from amenities and services.
Fontaine would like to see “care hubs” being built to deliver a wider range of medical and health services, as well as non-medical supports to seniors.
“We’ve talked this morning about having things like pubs and restaurants in care homes, having services like perhaps a community hall, where you can have banquets and weddings,” he said.
The Kelowna forum was conducted in conjunction with B.C. Housing, TransLink, Stantec and BMO with representatives from Vancouver Coastal and Interior Health authorities, the City of Kelowna, as well as academic representation from UBC Okanagan.
Melanie Reinhardt is the president of Vantage Living, which operates the Brandt’s Creek Mews retirement home in Kelowna. She said she supports the idea of care hubs in the Okanagan.
“If we can normalize the senior’s living experience to not be something that happens in your life as a milestone where you are placed outside, but it’s something that happens inside your community,” she said.
Jo-ann Tait, director of elder care and palliative services with Providence Health Care, said changes are needed to improve the lives of seniors.
“I think our biggest shortfall is that our services are designed for a population where I’m not sure whose needs we’re meeting,” she said.
“We need to look at designing services that you and I would actually be interested and want to spend our lives there, which affords autonomy, independence, choice, freedom of movement, and right now our services just aren’t there.”
The biggest roadblocks? Multi-use municipal zoning and funding.
Census data from 2016 shows 21.6 per cent of Kelowna’s population is over 65. That’s up from 19.1 per cent in 2011. Fontaine said it is projected that Canada’s median age will increase over the next 15 years, where up to one-quarter of all Canadians will be over the age of 65.