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Care beds for dementia patients planned for Nanaimo

NANAIMO – The rising tide of Canadians living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia is rolling ashore.

The rising tide of Canadians living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia is rolling ashore.

About 500,000 Canadians have Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia and by 2038, the Alzheimer Society of Canada predicts that number will swell to 1.2 million.

To meet the specific needs and demand for dementia care, the Vancouver Island Health Authority created a new model for licensed dementia care beds.

Between 2006 and 2008, VIHA opened 31 dementia-care beds as a pilot project in Victoria and recently put out a call for proposals to create between 40 and 100 beds in Nanaimo.

The city currently has 740 care beds, including complex care and assisted living beds.  The new licensed dementia housing beds will be the first of their kind in Nanaimo and are expected to open in 2015.

Norm Peters, director of continuing health services contracts, said VIHA wants to create more dementia-designated beds on the Island, but it’s dependent on funding.

“For VIHA, it’s really important. We are committed to improve access for seniors in community based facilities,” he said .

Jean Blake, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of B.C., said the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias is on the rise, so preparing is crucial.

“We do know many people try to provide care as long as possible in the home environment, but eventually the care is 24 hours, seven days a week and facilities are needed,” she said, adding it’s important patients in dementia housing care beds are cared for from a person-centred approach.

Peters said new dementia care model is a more appropriate model than in complex care, where most patients are currently housed.

That's because dementia patients often aren’t independent enough to go to assisted living and need more security to ensure their safety.

“There is such a huge need for this model of care,” said Janeane Coutu, director of Nanaimo Travellers Lodge, a specialized home for 90 people living with dementia. “We are excited that they are recognizing the level of care needed.”

The average cost of a residential care bed is $185 a day. Peters said VIHA expects the dementia housing model to cost less, but won’t know until the proposals are examined.

Coutu said staff were excited to see the VIHA request and the lodge hopes to be a successful applicant to build its proposed Eden Gardens residential care facility for people suffering from forms of dementia.

Traveller's Lodge is currently the only dedicated dementia care facility in the mid-Island.

The request for proposals closes on Aug. 17. For more information, please go to or to

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