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Comox Valley seniors group says new beds fall short
Decafnation reported last week that the announcement of new long-term care beds did not please everyone in the Comox Valley. We quoted health care workers still employed by Island Health and Seniors Voices advocated Delores Broten.
This week, Seniors Voices Comox Valley has issued an advisory for caregivers in response to the announcement by Health Minister Adrian Dix.
Dix announced the province awarded Golden Life Management Corporation a contract for 120 new residential care beds and two new hospice beds (for a total of six with the four existing beds). He also gave Providence Residential Care Community Society permanent funding for the 21 temporary beds it currently operates at the former St. Joe’s General Hospital under the name Mountain Views, and 10 new beds, currently funded at another facility, and four respite beds.
Here is Seniors Voices Comox Valley analysis of the announcement.
“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.
“The new Comox Valley hospital is bursting at the seams, constantly at over 100 percent 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.
“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 nonprofit 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.
“For caregivers, the greatest relief in this announcement will come from the addition of four 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.”
You can get more information about Senior Voices by contacting Delores Broten at email@example.com
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Top reasons why I support the recent announcement regarding hospice and long term care in the Comox Valley:
1) The decision reflects our broader community’s preference for hospice palliative care in a non-denominational setting while ensuring all options for end of life care are available for the community at large
2) I do not support the use of public funds to finance even larger congregate long term care settings that border on ‘institutional care’ and are not reflective of smaller (more humane) models of care
3) In recognition of the Comox Valley’s growth and expansion there is a need for hospice and long term residential care to be located closer to where the largest population resides. The demographic shift to an older population has resulted in the need for more options for care and adding a new provider supports this growth.
4) We are in desperate need of new ideas and new ways of doing things in this valley and ‘same old, same old’ is not always the best. Innovation in management is needed as well as training that reflects the growth, complexity and sensitivity of senior’s health and end of life care needs.
5) We need affordable housing for seniors in this valley and that includes affordable long term care options.
In highlighting these reasons I also recognize that the Hours and Standards of care will be the same whether a home is for profit or not for profit. These requirements are mandated by the Provincial Government and are not at the whim of care providers. I recognize the challenges in assuring that even minimal standards are maintained and the discrepancies in pay that those working in the field continue to face.
I still have questions including uncertainty as to where the funding is coming from for the redevelopment of existing sites. What will be asked of tax payers when it comes to the ‘agreement to work with Island Health on a potential campus of care redevelopment plan’… Who will be involved in the design and who is going to pay for this? Will this be limited to Catholic health care and/or housing? Might models of housing have restricted covenants on how people are to live and die in their own homes?
There are many supporters of Glacier View Lodge in this valley and their family centred model of care is under appreciated as their Board, Staff and Volunteers work hard to continue their long standing quality care. They have taken a huge ‘hit’ in this valley and despite attempts to ‘roll them into denominational care’ they have stayed true to their mission and continued to provide compassionate and humane care. Their ability to continue to do so will be dependent on our community’s largesse and yes, the continuing support of Island Health.
It also makes me pause to read the argument that for-profit care operators ‘might potentially sell’ flies in the face of recent decisions such as the one taken by the Bishop of Victoria to ‘gift’ the St. Joseph’s site to Providence Health. This places a large and very valuable community asset (and it might have been even more if Glacier View had been ‘gifted’ in the same manner) in the hands of a provider new to this community. Will this provider be investing any capital in the redevelopment and what is the risk if they were to choose to sell? Other providers are investing capital and I wonder what is Providence’s financial commitment to the Comox Valley particularly given the ‘gift’ received?
There are still major issues to be addressed in this valley regarding the constellation of care and services for those aging and dying in our community. The decision made by the BC Ministry of Health is a good one for the future of this valley. We all need to broaden our view of what ‘aging in place’ truly means and we need to applaud those providing compassionate care – care that truly centers on the individual and their quality of life. This all comes at a cost and the decisions taken are not simple… we have a long way to go to ensure that every person aging in the Comox Valley has access to affordable, safe, compassionate and humane care throughout their lives and also in their dying.
I would like to recognize the family members providing care at home as well as the staff and volunteers at each of the long term care and hospice care settings in the Valley as they do their part to care for an aging population wherever this may be – in community homes, at Cumberland Lodge, Glacier View Loge, Comox Valley Seniors Village, The Views, Hospice at The Views… I know there are loving stories of people living out their lives and their caregivers going ‘above and beyond’ to make their lives better. A special thanks goes to each and every one of you for the service, care and support you provide. The work you do is undervalued and we all need to do better in recognizing your essential service.
This article and comments contained within fail to address the complexity or the cost of providing safe, adequate and compassionate long term care let alone any decisions regarding the allocation of beds. I take exception to the author quoting one person’s opinion as opposed to many senior’s voices along with those who provide care in our community. Any attempt to generalize illustrates a lack of the full scope of issues considered in making what has been a very difficult decision about the future of health care in the Comox Valley. None of this is simple and to coyly say that this one person is the holder of “a focus on planning, management, and wise and compassionate use of health care dollars” is ludicrous.
I applaud Island Health and the BC Ministry of Health in making a courageous, visionary and long overdue decision. We are either part of the solution or part of the problem and we would be better served by everyone working together to ensure compassionate long term care in our community. Everyone will benefit from a more balanced perspective in your publications and Ms. Broten does not speak for me nor did I appoint her my advocate.
Hi June — This article, which merely publishes a media release from the Senior Voices Comox Valley group, makes no pretense of addressing the complexity and cost of long-term care beds versus acute care beds. But Decafnation has written about that issue, and you can find those articles here: https://decafnation.ca/healthcare/. Long-term care beds are much cheaper to provide than parking people who need them in acute care beds. You can search the BC Seniors Advocate’s website for data and stats on that.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion, including this group of actual caregivers. Also, I was surprised to see the group of words you put in quotations, as if quoting from the article, because they don’t appear anywhere in the article.
Hello George, thanks for your added links. I am keeping apprised of the issues and know some of the complexity as I am living it on many levels. Your original article quoted Ms Broten who then added a comment in this string of responses to another of your readers. Given that this is the same Seniors Voices advocate it is the phrase from her statement that I put in quotations. I do find it concerning when people make such statements when they have a platform for advocacy and tend to present their personal views rather than engaging in a dialogue that allows all viewpoints to be heard.
Question: Could someone please clarify or confirm (with actual hospital data) this statement that appear in the above article: “The new Comox Valley hospital is bursting at the seams, constantly at over 100 percent capacity, a situation leading to stress and problems for staff and patients.”
In my opinion, the new hospital seems to be getting too much bad press and it worries me. A majority of people voted for this hospital, the public consultation process was lengthy, as was the design process that involved every conceivable group of professionals that would use the space, equipment, etc. Personally, we would have much preferred a larger, regional hospital with more specialized local health services, to avoid the constant travel for so many to Victoria. Still, this hospital was designed to fit like a glove with options for future growth. As well, our personal experience visiting the hospital in 2018, along with a few testimonials from a friends, does not support these claims or the constant complaints. Thanks!
Sherril – the hospital has opened beds now that were not supposed to be open for another 5 years. If that is the “future growth” you mean, it is already grown. Then they added the 21 beds at St. Joe’s as well. That they had to do that alone is proof the hospital is over crowded, but you could ask them for their occupancy stats. They do occasionally get published. As for the planning, I do know the planning for Alternate Level of Care patients was practically absent. Originally they planned to not have any – which was lovely but totally unrealistic. They also “planned” for the hospital to be paperless, which has not happened yet, so there is no space for records. Another idealistic choice which has not been so great. I certainly do not mean to knock the hospital, nor staff who are doing a wonderful job. My focus is on planning, management, and wise and compassionate use of health care dollars,
Delores – With all do respect, it is not up to me to check occupancy stats when I read someone else’s claims and critical comments on a public institution, such as our hospital. It is up to the person, or organization, who is trying to make a strong case for change or wrongdoing that must provide the data to prove their claims. Otherwise, it’s just their “perception” and, possibly, unfounded criticism. We are living in a time when facts and truth matter more than ever, so my request for data and occupancy numbers to support the claims is fair. If the writer doesn’t have the data or hasn’t used occupancy stats to form their “opinion”, then that should be stated so others know what kind of information they’re reading. Thanks!
Sherril — In all due respect, you haven’t been following this story on Decafnation. If you had, you would have read stories going back to more than a year ago documenting the overcapacity issues at the CVH. I obtained the official admitted patients reports from sources inside the hospital who receive them on a daily basis. Just a few weeks ago there were more than 200 admitted patients for a hospital that opened with 129 beds and designed for a maximum of 153 beds, which was expected to be reached in 2025. But the CVH has run at or over 153 patients almost constantly since it opened. The main reason for this is patients who are waiting for long-term care beds. You can read all of these stories here (https://decafnation.ca/healthcare/). I suggest you start with this one: https://decafnation.ca/2018/01/15/a-decaf-report-growing-pains-or-systemic-problems-at-new-hospital/
Thanks for the homework assignment, George. I’ll make a point of reviewing the link provided and story from over a year ago. Still, I do maintain that current data for perspective would be helpful for uninformed readers, like me, who may not have read every story you’ve written on this subject. Cheers!
More truth you will not find in a single news report. The reason we have a government that seems to be out of touch is that they are listening to the same people that are currently managing the hospitals. And they’re doing such a fine job at that, aren’t they?