An arist rendering of the Heights at Mount View

Construction begins on residential care building in Saanich

Greater Victoria seniors needing round-the-clock care will have a modern facility in two years as construction gets underway this week

Greater Victoria seniors needing round-the-clock care will have a modern 260-bed facility in two years as construction gets underway this week in Saanich.

The seven-storey residential care building is the next addition to the Mount View Heights campus of care on Carey Road, and will replace two existing seniors facilities in the city.

The $60.5-million building, called The Heights at Mount View, includes 220 residential care units and 40 dementia care units, funded through a partnership with Capital Regional Hospital District, the Vancouver Island Health Authority and Baptist Housing.

Each unit is designed as a private room with an ensuite washroom and shower, and each floor has a central living area. Howard Johnson, CEO of Baptist Housing said this is a distinct move away from dorm-like facilities built 30 years ago that had residents sharing rooms, or using common washrooms.

“This is the state of the art, the latest in how we meet the needs of seniors in a home-like environment,” Johnson said. “It’s a setting that moves away from an institutional approach to care. It’s a home-like environment that creates a better delivery of care.”

Under the three-way agreement, Baptist Housing will operate and own the public care facility, and has arranged $38 million in financing, the bulk of the capital construction costs. CRHD is contributing $18.1 million in capital costs and is leasing the land to Baptist for 25 years. VIHA will pay annual operating costs, plus funds to pay down Baptist’s loan.

“VIHA is very pleased that we can now make real progress in renewing some of the outdated residential care capacity that is in dire need of replacement,” Howard Waldner, VIHA’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Unique to this facility are 40 units dedicated to dementia care, which will allow seniors with early stages of dementia to live as independently as possible, and among people with the same level of mental acuity.

Outdated care models tend to group people with light dementia in with residents needing more intensive care, which only aids in a more rapid decline of dementia residents, Johnson said.

“We find that when people with light dementia move into complex care, they don’t fit in well with complex residents. Their level of care needs increases dramatically,” he said. “(Dementia care) is an intermediate step. Independence can be maintained for a longer time and you don’t decline as fast.”

The other 220 rooms will be focused on residential care, the highest, most complex level of health care for people who can no longer live independently.

Johnson said the building itself will be cutting edge in terms of resident care and safety for its 260 staff members. Each room, for instance, will have a resident lift-assist machine.

The Heights at Mount View will eventually replace Baptist Housing’s outdated Central Care Home and Mount Edwards Court. Both were designed 35 years ago in an era with far fewer seniors needing complex care.

The Heights building is planned for seven stories, which met some resident opposition during the rezoning process. Saanich council argued the greater good of the overall project outweighs concerns over height. The former Greater Victoria school district property is mainly surrounded by residential neighbourhoods.

The 260-bed building is half of a greater project to replace 580 care beds in Greater Victoria. Earlier this year Oak Bay council quashed a plan to revamp Oak Bay Lodge for 320 beds by declining a development variance for Baptist Housing.

VIHA expects to tender a new request for proposal (RFP) this year for a 320-bed building in the region. The health authority wants to replace the existing Oak Bay Lodge and Mount Tolmie care home.

“Baptist Housing is keenly interested at looking at the RFP that VIHA will come out with … but until (the RFP) comes out I can’t emphatically say we’ll be applying,” Johnson said.

The Heights at Mount View will join Carey Place (55 units of affordable seniors housing), Vergo townhouses (18 units of affordable rental housing) and Olympic Vista (36 units for people at risk of homelessness) on the 3.3 hectare property.



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