Private care facility targets growing retirement sector

NANAIMO – A company with multiple U.S. memory care centres is looking to expand the model north of the border to Nanaimo.

A new, private dementia care facility could break ground in north Nanaimo next year.

Avenir Retirement, a company with memory care centres in the United States, plans to build an 83-bed, private-pay facility near Long Lake and Nanaimo North Town Centre for people with different stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Rooms are expected to cost residents between $4,500 to $5,900 a month at the new Nanaimo Memory Care, a four-storey facility with round-the-clock care and different ‘neighbourhoods’ of people with similar cognitive abilities and stages of disease.

According to Jason Craik, a partner with Avenir, the model is already used in Arizona where the company has multiple facilities, but this is the first time they will bring it to Canada. Other locations in the country have also been earmarked as the company plans an expansion in the United States and north of the border with dementia becoming more of an issue for North Americans.

“Certainly we need a balance of funded and private-pay facilities that specialize in dementia,” Craik said.  “It’s  becoming an epidemic here throughout North America so we are excited to bring our model to Nanaimo and believe it’s going to serve a great purpose in helping change families’ lives with their loved ones.”

Craik said Nanaimo is a destination location for retirees and seniors, with a large senior population.

That large senior population is one of the reasons the company chose to locate a memory care centre here.

“Our studies tell us that this type of a service is needed in Nanaimo, in the central Island and will cater to the Island up and down from there,” he said.

Janeane Coutu, a director with Nanaimo Travellers Lodge, says there is a huge demand in Nanaimo and anticipates we’ll see more dementia care and facilities.

The lodge is in the process of replacing its Nelson Road building with a larger publicly funded centre. Eden Gardens, a 130-bed facility, will have 40 additional beds over its former lodge.

Nevertheless, Coutu says they should be building a second building already, “or someone else should be, especially in government-funded health care,” adding there’s likely a market for four or five facilities.

The Alzheimer Society did not have statistics for Nanaimo but reported 747,000 Canadians currently live with the disease and that number will nearly double to 1.4 million in less than two decades.

The new private-pay facility has a development permit and expects to begin construction at the end of March. It anticipates 50 to 60 new full-time jobs will be created.