Note: RC = Retirement Concepts, VIHA = Vancouver Island Health Authority
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Retirement Concepts started in 1988, when father Abdul Jamal, a business man from Tanzania, became partner and then owner, of McIntosh Lodge, a failing 55 bed seniors’ residence in Chilliwack. The facility eventually won government funding for 10 beds in 1994, “giving the business the stability it needed.”
In 1997 the company, owned by Abdul and Shamim Jamal, had 135 units at two facilities. But the family added Azim (son), Zahra Mamdani (daughter,) and developer Joe Moosa (Azim’s brother) to the business. Azim stated that although his parents wanted him to be a doctor, “I wasn’t happy doing that, and I saw myself as an entrepreneur wanting to get into business.”
After a 1999 government tender to develop a new residence in Nanaimo, development replaced acquisitions.
By 2007 RC had 1300 care home units under development across Canada and was “counting on a new school that trains employees exclusively for its homes.” (2007 issue cover in back issues at https://www.bcbusiness.ca/Magazine/BCB20071001 but 404-File not found for article). This information from a paper copy.
In 2002, BC Liberal government announces the closure of 3,111 public beds by 2005, to be replaced by more home care, assisted living and for profit companies.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives releases “Continuing Care: Renewal or Retreat? BC Residential and Home Health Care restructuring 2001-2004 by Marcy Cohen et al. The report documents the closure of thousands of public beds, the growth of corporate control of residential care and assisted living, and the failure of substitution of assisted living for residential care, largely because seniors’ care needs were too high for the assisted living model. Home health care was also cut, as was acute care in hospitals. “Although the discussion is framed in terms of the benefits of ‘deinstitutionalizing’ care for seniors, the reality is somewhat different. The shift to an assisted living model may be more about limiting governments’ responsibility than about providing ‘a homelike atmosphere.’”
Beacon Hill Villa, (Victoria)
Over five years, complaints escalate, from abuse, lack of cleanliness, to lack of wound care and hygiene care. The facility is contracting out most care services. Vancouver Island Health Authority freezes admissions in April 2005 but lifts the freeze 3 months later. https://thetyee.ca/News/2005/02/25/SeniorsSufferContractingOut/ “Seniors Suffer from Contracting Out: Inspection reports reveal grim conditions at seniors’ homes. One operator blames new contract employees,” February 25, 2005.
See also https://thetyee.ca/News/2007/10/12/BeaconHillVilla/ “Big Senior Home Chain Has Thick File of Complaints: Health minister refuses to probe firm that owns Beacon Hill Villa,” October 12, 2007
Labour Relations Board rules that Nanaimo Seniors Village had violated the labour code by contracting out in order to avoid unionization.
Health authority freezes admissions for 6 weeks and appoints a “government clinical manager until problems were resolved.”
The Employment Standards Branch finds Nanaimo Seniors Village Partnership and Well-Being Seniors Services in violation of the Employment Standards Act by failing to pay group termination pay and orders the employees compensated.
Beacon Hill Villa, (Victoria)
VIHA again freezes admissions and appoints a public administrator. Dr. Azim Jamal tells the Tyee that care is excellent in the other 14 RC facilities throughout BC.
Nanaimo Seniors Village
Investigations reveal that wound care is inadequate and undocumented, while staff have been fired and new staff rehired 3 times in 5 years under Bill 29, which would be struck down by the Supreme Court.
Hospital Employees Union (HEU) urges health minister to investigate mass firing and job flipping in the private care sector, as over 650 workers lose their jobs in 3 weeks.
Azim Jamal is named Entrepreneur of the year in a profile in BC Business (2007/10/10) and the history of Retirement Concepts is reviewed.
NDP calls for an investigation into Retirement Concepts facilities in BC, after Summerland Seniors Village staff were found taking nude photos of residents, as well as complaints of abuse, poor care, and bad food in Victoria, Williams Lake, and Maple Ridge. “We need an investigation into what’s gong on at Retirement Concepts, because that’s going to tell us what we need to do across British Columbia to raise the standard of care for seniors,” Adrian Dix to CBC reporter Jeff Davies. (CBC News March 5, 2008)
BC Nurses Union denounces VIHA decision to close public care home beds and put residents into facilities owned by for-profit business.
Retirement Concepts responds to CBC by claiming the HEU knows the staffing was increased temporarily to facilitate a move. Interestingly, the VP goes on to say:
“The HEU’s misleading claims are clearly linked to the campaign being waged by the NDP against Retirement Concepts as part of its battle with the provincial government to undermine public confidence in the seniors’ residential care system…..
“In the past, Retirement Concepts has maintained or increased staffing levels at all its facilities. Moving forward, we will be posting any staffing level changes on our website so that people can see for themselves what changes we make and where and not have to rely on politically-biased information from critics with ulterior motives.
“Within the next two weeks, we will also start posting on our website summaries of all Licensing authority reports related our facilities. We believe in transparency and see no reason why anyone should need to use a Freedom of Information request to get important information about a care home.” https://bc.ctvnews.ca/retirement-concepts-responds-1.280730
Vancouver Island Health Authority announces a revised Residential Care Delivery and Funding model which promises equity and fairness in the services received by residents, increases in food costs, incontinence supplies, and housekeeping and laundry, as well as a gradual level of 3.24 funded hours of direct care per resident, up from the 2008 level of 2.79.
The BC Ministry of Heath announces a change to the care home rate structure so that lower income people pay less, and higher income residents pay more, up to a cap of $2,932 per month. The change is expected to raise $53 million.
The BC Ombudsman releases an extensive report, “The Best of Care: Getting it Right for Seniors in British Columbia (Part 1)” with Part 2 released in 2012.
The Institute for Research on Public Policy releases a thorough study, “Residential Long-Term Care for Canada’s Seniors: Nonprofit, For-Profit or Does It Matter?” which concludes that “while the causal link between for-profit ownership and inferior quality of care does not imply that all for-profit facilities provide poor care, the evidence suggests that, as a group, such facilities are less likely to provide good care than nonprofit or public facilities.”
The study traces the decline in residential care beds per 1,000 population over 75 in each province from 2001 to 2008 by which time BC had declined to 81 beds from 102.
The authors recommend that public sector funding, rather than private capital, be used to build new facilities, and that non-profit organizations be offered the loans and the technical support necessary to enable them to bid competitively on new residential care projects.
The Parkland Institute’s “From Bad to Worse: Residential Elder Care in Alberta,” as well as outlining a story of privatization familiar in BC, gives and intriguing glimpse into Return on Investment (ROI): “Between 1999 and 2009, private long term care facilities in the province had an average ROI of 2.1%. Private AL facilities had much higher returns… of 9.14%. This means that in recent years the returns received by the private residential care industry in Alberta have been higher than those of the US stock market [at] 1.23%.”
Stanford Place (Parksville) and Selkirk Place (Victoria)
Acquired by RC on November 30, 2015.
Globe and Mail reports on Anbang, “a massive Chinese insurance company with a murky ownership structure,” offer to purchase Retirement Concepts and its 24 facilities for over $1 billion. The company is reported to have lots of real estate for expansion, and will make Anbang the major provider of The deal has to be approved by the federal Investment Review Division. Azim Jamal is president and chief executive of Retirement Concepts. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/chinese-company-anbang-buys-stake-in-bc-based-retirement-home-chain/article33065536/
The provincial government transfers the facility contracts to Cedar Tree, the Canadian investment arm of Anbang, and requires Cedar Tree to contract Pacific Reach Management (owned by Azim Jamal) to manage the RC chain for 3 years. www.timescolonist.com/news/local/chinese-firm-given-licences-to-run-seniors-homes-including-7-on-island-1.10972801 “Chinese firm given licences to run seniors homes, including 7 on Island,” Vancouver Sun, March 4, 2017
All licencing investigation reports are moved from the facilities’ records due to the new ownership, in accord with government policy.
The BC Care Providers Association releases the first in a series of comprehensive white papers on “Options for Improving BC’s Continuing Care Sector.” It notes many of the problems in the sector from the use of hospitals instead of long term care ($842 per day instead of $124 for long term care according to a Canada-wide study) to the increasing acuity of seniors when they do arrive in long term care after surviving in assisted living or at home. (www.bccare.ca) Interestingly, they do not mention profit among the fiscal problems faced by the industry. They do note that if the province increased rates for the well to do to a realistic level, it would increase demand for private pay beds.
Selkirk Place, (Victoria)
In mid-October, Island Health, with the cooperation of the unions, begins to provide health authority employees to bring staffing up to required levels. The Authority reveals that a similar arrangement has been in place at Nanaimo Seniors Village for “several weeks.” https://www.islandhealth.ca/news/news-releases/island-health-takes-steps-support-residents-two-long-term-care-facilities
Comox Valley Seniors Village (CVSV, Courtenay)
At the end of September 2019, after months of complaints and a letter writing campaign about lack of care staff, lack of management, and lack of cleaning during a norovirus outbreak, Island Health appoints a public administrator, Sue Abermann, to CVSV. https://www.islandhealth.ca/news/news-releases/island-health-administrator-appointed-comox-valley-seniors-village
The Medical Health Officer reports to the Island Health board that: “On careful review and consideration of the Licensing Report it is my determination that the Licensee is either unwilling or unable to meet the minimal requirements of the Community Care and Assisted Living Act (the”CCALA”) and the expected standard as per s.7(1)(b)(i) to ensure the health, safety and dignity of persons in care is not being met.” https://www.islandhealth.ca/sites/default/files/2019-09/mho-report-comox-valley-seniors-village.pdf
November 3, 2019
The website for West Coast Seniors Housing Management says that it manages the Retirement Concepts chain. http://wcshm.com/