For Immediate Release: January 22, 2019

Advisory for Caregivers

Last week BC minister of Health Adrian Dix announced the award of a contract for 120 new residential care beds and 6 hospice beds (2 new, 4 to replace the existing hospice beds at The Views) in Courtenay to Golden Life Management Corporation.  Providence Residential Care Community Society also received permanent funding for the 21 temporary beds at the old St. Joe’s hospital and for 10 more beds, beds currently funded at another facility, and for 4 respite beds.

Seniors Voices Comox Valley has analysed the details and is providing this Advisory for Caregivers.

1)     Our data (and personal experience) indicates that the Comox Valley needed about 150 beds in 2017 to meet the need at that time. We estimate that about 25 to 30 new beds are needed every year. This means that by the time the “120 new beds”, the Golden Life beds, come on line at the end of 2020, the Valley will require at a minimum another 100 beds. The beds awarded to Providence already exist and are already full.

2)     The new Comox Valley hospital is bursting at the seams, constantly at over 100% capacity, a situation leading to stress and problems for staff and patients. On any given day over one third of the admitted patients in the hospital are deemed to require “Alternative Level of Care,” not an expensive hospital bed. This is not new but has worsened this winter. Many of these people are waiting for residential care. The new beds will not help the hospital over-crowding due to the ever-increasing need.

3)     The decision to award this contract to a private company is inexplicable to us. The contract could easily have been awarded to Glacierview Lodge, the experienced, qualified and community-supported not-for-profit already operating in the Valley. Minister Dix appeared to be unaware of the raison d’etre of private enterprise which is to generate a profit to satisfy the interests of shareholders/investors, saying that Golden Life is a “good company.” Good company or not, private corporate interests could result in the sale to a “maybe not so good company” (as in the sale of Retirement Concepts to Anbang).  As well, wages are lower than in non profit facilities, which will lead to on-going staffing issues. We do not agree that private profit should be realized from the public funds the government will provide Golden Life for the care of our seniors.

4)     For caregivers, the greatest relief in this announcement will come from the addition of 4 more respite beds at Mountain View (Providence). Too many caregivers lose control of their lives to look after their loved ones. These respite beds will provide caregivers with a week or two of welcome and needed time to look after themselves.

If you share our concern about the seniors’ care crisis in the Comox Valley, please contact your MLA to request work begin immediately on developing an expanded care plan. After all, based on history, it will take years.

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