A lack of advanced care options on the West Shore means many seniors are being forced to spend their final days away from their families and the communities they’ve spent their lives calling home. (Pixabay photo)

A lack of advanced care options on the West Shore means many seniors are being forced to spend their final days away from their families and the communities they’ve spent their lives calling home. (Pixabay photo)

EXCLUSIVE: West Shore seniors forced to relocate, no hospice care

Private report shows dire need for hospice, long-term care beds for West Shore seniors

The West Shore is a place to work, play and live – but not for seniors requiring advanced care.

Seniors are being forced to move from the western communities they’ve spent their lives calling home and are spending their final days in unfamiliar areas – often removed from their families – because of a lack of end-of-life care options that have been promised but not materialized.

It’s a story Dave Saunders knows too well, having experienced it both on a personal level with family members requiring hospice and advanced care, as well as hearing stories from local residents as a former mayor of Colwood.

“I was hearing very clearly from our seniors there was not enough services,” he explained. “The Priory has been bursting at the seams for over 15 years … At the end of the day, they’re put on a waitlist and they could go anywhere.”

The Priory is an Island Health facility on Goldstream Avenue for individuals with complex needs who require 24-hour care. With 140 subsidized units, it is one of the only options for West Shore residents needing advanced care.

READ MORE: Support growing for palliative care facility on the West Shore

Frustrated after a promised new facility from Island Health and the Capital Regional District (CRD) didn’t materialize, Saunders, a well-known philanthropist, hopes to change that by spearheading a push to bring a service-enriched seniors housing facility to Colwood and West Shore residents.

He met with a number of local developers earlier this year and identified eight willing to host a project. He took it upon himself to prove the need.

Private report paints dire picture

A draft report prepared by the Westbridge Group Valuation Partner, paid for by the Saunders Family Foundation, sheds light on the limited services West Shore seniors face.

There are no funded long-term care beds in Colwood, nor are there any hospice beds. There are six funded assisted living suites and 116 for-profit suites.

Historically, according to the report, health authorities in B.C. held a target of 75 funded, long-term care beds per 1,000 seniors aged 75 and up – but the current provincial average is now lower. In 2019, there were an estimated 69 funded long-term care beds per 1,000 seniors aged 75 and up in B.C.

In 2016, 1,000 Colwood residents were aged 75 and older. Colwood’s total population in 2016 (the last census taken) was 16,859. It is now estimated, according to the report, to be 17,672 with growth predicted to be 10 per cent between 2019 and 2029.

Comparatively, Langford’s population was 32,342 in 2016, now estimated to be 39,476 with growth predicted to be approximately 15 per cent between 2019 and 2029. In 2016, 1,620 residents were aged 75 and up. That’s now estimated to be 1,878 residents.

There are 149 funded long-term care beds in Langford, 60 funded assisted living suites and 256 private-pay independent and assisted living suites.

But Langford does not have any hospice beds. There are only two hospice beds located in the western communities – both are in Sooke’s Ayre Manor and opened in 2017.

The total population in 2016 for Colwood, Langford, View Royal, Highlands, Metchosin, Sooke, T’Sou-ke Nation, Sc’ianew (Beecher Bay) First Nation, and the Juan de Fuca electoral district was 87,575 residents – now estimated to be 94,342. Of that, 4,720 residents, now estimated to be 5,714, were aged 75 and up. Comparatively, the entire population for Greater Victoria (including the West Shore, Sooke, Esquimalt, Saanich, Victoria, Oak Bay, Central Saanich, Sidney, North Saanich, and the Esquimalt, Songhees, Tsawout, Tsartlip, Tseycum and Pauquachin First Nations) is 367,770, now estimated to be 385,402. Of that, 34,310 residents were aged 75 and up (now estimated to be 36,785 or approximately 9.5 per cent of the population).

In the entire region, there are 2,680 funded long-term care beds, 665 private-pay long-term care beds, 398 funded assisted living suites, as well as 2,037 for-profit assisted living suites and 544 not-for-profit assisted living suites. There are also 10 hospice beds at Victoria Hospice (Royal Jubilee Hospital) and 10 at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital.

The report did not include short-term inventory, such as palliative, convalescent or respite beds in hospice counts.

In a statement, Island Health noted it continuously reviews long-term care needs across Vancouver Island and the West Shore.

“As a publicly funded agency, Island Health is committed to fair business practices. Should Island Health determine a need to add long-term care capacity in the future, a comprehensive planning process would occur to determine priority geographic areas for expansion.”

At this time, Island Health does not have plans to open any additional hospice beds on the West Shore.

But as Saunders noted, “the report clearly articulates there is a need.”

West Shore residents still waiting for promised facility

Many seniors now requiring these services have followed this story along with Saunders, who was first elected to Colwood council in 2005 and served as mayor for a term in 2008.

While he was serving as mayor, the CRD looked to replace beds at the Oak Bay Lodge and Mount Tolmie Hospital.

Baptist Housing was hired by Island Health to redevelop the Oak Bay Lodge into a 320-bed facility for dementia care to replace existing beds at aging facilities, including 247 at Oak Bay Lodge and 77 at Mt. Tolmie Hospital, but needed a variance.

READ MORE: Oak Bay denies senior housing replacement

Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch, a councillor at the time, said in June 2012, that had Island Health chosen a Langford site for the proposed facility, “I think we would have been hugely up in arms.”

Oak Bay council rejected the replacement proposal at the same meeting, due to concerns over the size of the project.

After Oak Bay council’s rejection, the CRD sought other options. Saanich, Colwood and Langford expressed interest but in the end, the project was built at the former Blanshard elementary school site.

At the time, Saunders was approached by a well-known West Shore developer who proposed renovating the Oak Bay Lodge while also building a new facility on the West Shore.

“It made the most sense,” Saunders explained, but he quickly realized the proposal didn’t stand a chance with the way the CRD board vote is weighted towards the core municipalities. “Ironically, residents of Oak Bay were approaching me as Colwood mayor to get the variance rejected.”

While Saunders noted The Summit is a great facility, it does not add any new beds for the region.

The Summit at Quadra Village is a partnership between the Capital Region Hospital District (CRHD) and Island Health. CRHD designed and is building The Summit on behalf of Island Health, and will own the land and building while Island Health will provide the care services.

Officials broke ground in June 2016 and are on track to complete it by the end of this year. The $86-million, four-storey, 320-bed facility will offer 24-hour care and support to seniors and people with dementia and includes private rooms with en suite bathrooms for all residents, a natural courtyard, activity areas, physiotherapy room, hair salon, lounge and other amenities.

READ MORE: State-of-the-art care facility brings new hope to seniors

Saunders said he was told not to worry back in 2012, as more services were in the works for the West Shore. Emails circulating at the time involving the CRD noted the West Shore and Saanich Peninsula were next in line for $50 million projects of their own within five years. Saunders added he was also told by Island Health the West Shore would have its own facility in the next five years.

Those years have come and gone and Saunders is still waiting, trying to get someone to pick up the torch.

“But who will step up?” he asked. “That’s why I’m still hanging in there. I made a promise to some seniors.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

katie@goldstreamgazette.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Carmen Robinson was last seen getting off a bus in View Royal the evening of Dec. 8, 1973. Her case remains unsolved 47 years later. (Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers)
Gone cold: Fate of View Royal teen remains a mystery, 47 years after her disappearance

Carmen Robinson, 17, was last seen exiting a bus in View Royal in December 1973

A Saanich crash has left many residences in the area without power Thursday morning. (Google Maps)
Early morning crash causes Saanich power outage

Power expected to be restored by 9:30 a.m.

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

The Oak Bay Police Department has announced plans to purchase the municipality’s first electric marked police vehicle. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Electric vehicle could soon be patroling Oak Bay streets

Oak Bay police plan to purchase first marked electric police vehicle in 2021

The Sooke School District is actively looking for more bus drivers after they had to cancel a handful of bus routes in late November. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bus driver shortage cancels routes in Sooke School District

More drivers needed to accomodate expanding bus routes amid pandemic

(AP Photo/Paula Bronstein)
POLL: Has COVID-19 changed your plans for the holidays?

The lights are going up, the stacks of presents under the tree… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 1

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Janet Austin, the lieutenant-governor of British Columbia, not seen, swears in Premier John Horgan during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. Horgan says he will look to fill gaps in the federal government’s sick-pay benefits program aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. premier says province prepared to patch holes in new federal sick-pay benefits

Horgan said workers should not be denied pay when they are preventing COVID-19’s spread

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

BIG SALMON ranch in Washington State. (Center for Whale Research handout)
Non-profit buys Chinook ranch in hopes of increasing feed for southern resident killer whales

The ranch, which borders both sides of Washington State’s Elwha River, is a hotspot for chinook salmon

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy are inviting audiences into their home for ‘A Celtic Family Christmas’. (Submitted)
Natalie MacMaster coming to you through Cowichan Performing Arts Centre

Here’s your chance to enjoy the famed fiddler in an online show with her husband Donnell Leahy.

Most Read