Alistair Hicks

BUSINESS BEAT: Saanich-based senior care firm promotes quality of life

Life doesn't end for seniors after a dementia diagnosis, Alastair Hicks says

Alistair Hicks remembers a time about a dozen years ago practising how to polish marble with large machines.

He was looking into the business as part of his role with a large company in Japan that investigated franchise opportunities. For a while he thought that marble might be his ticket to freedom.

But in 2000 he was assigned to check into the feasibility of Home Instead Seniors Care. Before long he realized this family oriented service business was tailor made for him.

“I just thought, ‘Oh my God, this is for me. This the only business in nine years (with the Japanese firm) that captured my heart,’” he recalls.

He opened the Nebraska-based company’s first franchise in Canada in Toronto in 2001. When family and lifestyle considerations prompted a move to Victoria, Hicks brought Home Instead here in 2005.

“We didn’t come here because it was a seniors’ haven, Victoria is a nice place to live. This business can do well anywhere,” he says.

In a growing and highly competitive market, Hicks says his company distinguishes itself by enhancing the quality of life of clients. They do that, he says, through a commitment to building relationships and helping families navigate the multitude of services available.

Home Instead employs 50 full-and part-time trained caregivers here, some of whom are seniors themselves. Caregivers are matched with clients based as much on personality as any other skill. They can perform a range of duties, from basic chores and errands to providing companionship and assisting with more personal needs and medical issues.

More than half of Home Instead’s local clients have some form of dementia. As such, the company has a major focus on public education and awareness of care options for dementia patients.

Hicks says 70,000 B.C. residents have dementia-related illness. His company is trying to bring the issue into the open by getting families talking more about dementia, convincing them that diagnosed patients have quality of life remaining, increasing public understanding about the illness and reminding people – and funding agencies –  that no cure has yet been found.

During Alzheimer Awareness Month in B.C., Home Instead is hosting free family education sessions Jan. 22 and 29 and Feb. 5 from 10 a.m. to noon at its offices.

– Home Instead Seniors Care, 222-1595 McKenzie Ave., 250-382-6565,

Another design award won by Pacifica building

The designers of Camas Gardens, the first building designed and constructed for social service agency Pacifica Housing, have won multiple awards for the project. The latest honour for the 44-unit wood, glass and concrete structure at 950 Humboldt St. was best architecture-multiple residence in the Americas region, announced at the 2012 International Property Awards in London, England last month. Victoria firm Chow Low Hammond designed the supportive housing complex, which opened in 2011. Other awards won include the 2011 Victoria Commercial Building Design Award, and the 2012 Canadian Wood Council B.C. Wood Design Award, in the multi-family category.

DIY sewing studio opens on the Avenue

Former Oak Bay News reporter Vivian Moreau has turned her hand to business and opened up Avenue Fabric Studio at 108-1841 Oak Bay Ave. The shop, inspired by similar ventures in Vancouver and Toronto, allows do-it-yourself seamstresses to use Janome sewing machines to work on projects by the hour. The studio also has numerous workshops planned for January and February, and its Sunday Salon features creative time all day plus a family craft hour at 1 p.m. Visit or call 250-590-4254.

Morning meal chain opening

Quebec-based Cora is opening a breakfast and lunch specialty cafe in the former Smitty’s space at 850 Douglas St. The chain has 121 restaurants nationwide, including three on the Lower Mainland. It features fresh ingredients and a fairly simple menu. Opening day is Jan. 21 at 6 a.m. Visit

Names in the business news

Satnam S. Basi has been named the manager of retail banking for Canadian Western Bank Group’s Victoria branch at 1201 Douglas St. He has 34 years’ experience in banking and is a longtime resident of Oak Bay … James Fry has been hired as the new director of sales and marketing at the Hotel Grand Pacific. Fry, who starts Jan. 28, had previous stops in sales positions at the Vancouver Airport Marriott and the Delta Burnaby Hotel and Conference Centre … Chris Fudge is the new executive director of the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. He comes to the Sidney-based organization after stints with Tourism Whistler and the Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee …

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