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Island Health takes control of third Retirement Concepts seniors home in months

Selkirk Senior's Village. .
Selkirk Senior's Village. . Global News

For the third time since September, the provincial government has taken over management of a seniors home on Vancouver Island.

All three properties were run by a company called “Retirement Concepts.”

The latest property, called Selkirk Seniors Village in Victoria, is a 217-bed extended care facility, and is now under the management of Island Health.

“The fact that they all happen to be Retirement Concepts facilities should be a matter of public concern, it’s certainly of concern to me,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix.

Island Health announced it would be taking temporary control of the property on Thursday following a report from Island Health’s Community Care Facilities Licencing program, which found the operator was failing to meet health and safety regulations.

The report found the operator failed to submit an acceptable health and safety plan, was insufficiently staffed, and had an overall lack of cleanliness.

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Island Health has also documented concerns of physical and emotional abuse in the facility.

READ MORE: Ottawa ‘screwed up’ when it greenlit sale of B.C. retirement homes to Chinese company: UBC prof

“The thorough investigation by the independent licencing program has given Island Health detailed insight into the operator’s failures at this site,” said Mark Blandford, executive director of primary care and seniors’ health for the health authority.

“Island Health will work with the administrator and operator to understand and correct the causes of these issues and develop sustainable plans to return the care delivered to legislated and contracted standards.”

Students and seniors living together in Calgary retirement home
Students and seniors living together in Calgary retirement home

In an emailed statement, West Coast Seniors House Management, which manages the property for Retirement Concepts, acknowledged the appointment of an administrator at three sites was “unprecedented,” and said it has been working with Island Health to resolve compliance issues, which it said were “largely due to staffing changes.”

“Unfortunately, our collective efforts have not produced the results required to ensure full compliance of licensing,” said the company.

“These issues are complex, involve multiple stakeholders and need time and collaboration by all to be resolved.”

The move means three of Retirement Concepts’ seven Vancouver Island facilities are now under government administration. The company owns multiple facilities around B.C.

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The complaints listed in the report are familiar to people with family in Selkirk Village.

“I just find the rooms are very dismal,” said Karen Schop, whose father lives at the facility.

READ MORE: Interior Health says care improved at Summerland Seniors Village

Luula Spence, whose husband lives at the facility, said she’s happy the province has intervened.

“His room was always clean, but sometimes you feel his doorhandle was tacky,” she told Global News.

“It keeps everyone honest,” she added. “I think it can only get better.”

Schop agreed.

“I’m looking forward to the improvements or changes that will take place,” she said. “[It’s] better for everyone… not just my father, but everyone.”

Island Health has appointed veteran health administrator Susan Abermann to act as administrator for six months. Abermann is currently performing the role at two other Retirement Concepts facilities.

In 2017, the provincial government approved the sale of Retirement Concepts to Chinese insurance giant Anbang.