As B.C. waitlist continues to grow, 240-bed long-term care home confirmed for Vancouver

Click to play video: 'B.C. care home build to replace aging facilities, add 15 beds'
B.C. care home build to replace aging facilities, add 15 beds
WATCH: Vancouver will soon have a new long-term care home. – Mar 22, 2023

Advocates for long-term care residents and staff are welcoming news of a new 240-bed facility coming to Vancouver, but say more needs to be done to address the city’s increasing capacity issues in the time before the home is completed.

The provincial government, Providence Health Care and Vancouver Coastal Health announced Wednesday that the 13-storey St. Vincent’s Heather home is in the procurement phase with construction expected to be completed by fall of 2028. The facility would be built on the former site of St. Vincent’s Hospital, with support from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver.

The vast majority of the beds at St. Vincent’s Heather will replace beds at other outdated Providence Health Care homes, resulting in a total addition of 15 new beds to the city.

“The development is going to be a home and a compassionate and lively community for the people who reside there and for the surrounding neighbourhoods,” Health Minister Adrian Dix told reporters.

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When completed, St. Vincent’s Heather will include 20 wheelchair-accessible households accommodating 12 residents, along with community recreational spaces and a 37-space child care centre on the main floor. It will include culturally-safe living spaces and services for Indigenous elders, including access to traditional medicine gardens.

Construction is slated to begin in fall of 2025.

“This announcement is a good first step, particularly as these new long-term care spaces will replace those which are outdated, and we hope that more action will be taken by Government to prepare to support seniors in communities across the province,” wrote BC Care Providers Association CEO Terry Lake in an emailed statement to Global News.

“However, much more needs to be done address capacity issues in long-term care … According to the Office of the Seniors Advocate, the long-term care waitlist has more than doubled in the past five years.

“The situation will get much worse over the coming decades, with the Conference Board of Canada projecting that over 30,000 new long-term care beds will be needed in B.C. by 2035.”

Click to play video: 'Recommendations released in hopes of raising the standard in long-term care'
Recommendations released in hopes of raising the standard in long-term care

According to the BC Seniors Advocate’s 2021-2022 annual report, publicly-funded long-term care beds in the province increased by only three per cent between 2017 and 2021, while the number of people on the waitlist increased by nine per cent. The average wait time increased 33 per cent to 178 days.

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On Wednesday, Ministry of Health cited roughly $2 billion in the past five years to expand care for seniors, including in primary care, home health, assisted living and long-term care.

The province has made significant changes to the system in the past three years, including wage levelling for long-term care workers and improved training and retention. It has also upgraded facilities to include better infection control, more single rooms and better ventilation.

The Health Standards Organization released new, national long-term care standards in January. Those recommend a minimum four hours of direct care per resident, per day, along with more single rooms in facilities, both for privacy and infection prevention.

All the rooms at St. Vincent’s Health will be single-bed rooms, but some suites will adjoin allowing families and couples to stay together.

“The majority of people in long-term care are living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, and we have to — I think — create living spaces that allow people, under those circumstances … the ability to live better lives,” Dix explained. “This is an absolutely exciting model and one that I think will not just be an example for B.C., but I think the world.”

– With files from Simon Little 


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