Editorial: Playing catchup with care homes

Health system needs public facilities that are safe and respectful, for the residents and their families

When people are nearing the end of their lives, our health system needs public facilities that are safe and respectful, for the residents and their families.

The need, while great now, will only increase over the next decades as this population of Greater Victoria ages. In the region, about one in every five people is older than 65. About six per cent are older than 80.

Which is why breaking ground on The Heights at Mount View couldn’t come soon enough. Planned for 260 beds, this $60 million residential care facility on Carey Road in Saanich – part of what has been coined “the campus of care” – will replace two older care homes in downtown Victoria.

It’s reasonable that some residents in the Carey Road area are peeved a seven storey building is going up in the midst of mainly single family homes.

Saanich council heard the protests but recognized that the convergence of having public land, funding partners and the political will as too rare to pass up. Rezoning for density and height makes sense in this case, despite breaking the mould for the neighbourhood.

Oak Bay council may want to take a lesson from this. That council denied a few variances to allow Oak Bay Lodge to be redeveloped with 320 care beds. It called the proposed building too big for the neighbourhood.

If communities want their seniors to age in place and near amenities, communities have to play ball and be willing to provide the means to do so.

There are no perfect locations, especially in urban centres, for large residential care buildings. But they remain a necessary option for seniors who can’t care for themselves.

These projects just aren’t about replacing aging beds and old buildings with modern equivalents.

As the operator, Baptist Housing, put it, it’s about moving away from the institutional model of caring for seniors.

To say it another way, it’s trying to get rid of the warehousing of our mos