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VIHA announces new 130-bed seniors care facility

NANAIMO – Travellers Lodge, in partnership with the Vancouver Island Health Authority team up to provide a new facility for dementia care

Dementia care will have a new home in Nanaimo in 2015.

The Nanaimo Travellers Lodge Society and Vancouver Island Health Authority announced an agreement that will see the construction of a $35.8-million 130-bed seniors' care facility at 1917 Northfield Rd.

“Enhancing bed capacity on central Vancouver Island, and in Nanaimo specifically, is a top priority as this area has a rapidly growing and aging population," said VIHA board chairman Don Hubbard, in a news release. "We are very pleased to be expanding our partnership with Nanaimo Travellers Lodge."

The new facility, to be called Eden Gardens, will be built by Travellers Lodge, and annual operating costs, in the range of $11 million, will be provided by VIHA.

Ninety care beds from the Nelson Street location will be relocated to the new facility, and 40 additional licensed dementia care beds will be added, resulting in approximately 35-40 new jobs, said Janeane Coutu, director with the Nanaimo Travellers Lodge Society.

"The building project alone is going to be quite an economic driver for the 18-24 months of the build," she added.

The society will launch a fundraising campaign in the new year to raise $1.5 million toward the cost of facility. The remainder of the amount will be financed by selling of the old property, and by mortgage.

Coutu said Eden Gardens will provide different types of care all under one roof to allow seniors’ to receive care in the same facility, even though their care needs may change.

One of these care types is licensed dementia care, which focuses on individuals who are mobile, but can no longer live safely in their home or assisted living, and need a secure facility with 24-hour personal care and professional nursing supervision.

"At this point in Nanaimo, Travellers Lodge is the only facility that is 100 per cent dedicated to providing care for people with dementia, and the need is growing exponentially in our area because of our elder population," Coutu said. "One of the biggest problems with dementia is that they are not in the present and you have to find ways to engage them and bring them back to encourage memories."

"A lot of times that's through music, animals, arts or crafts or hobbies they've had in the past."

Nanaimo Travellers Lodge currently employs 150 staff members (50 full-time, 50 part-time, and 50 casual).

The Nanaimo Travellers Lodge Society is a non-profit charitable society established by the Nanaimo club of the Associated Canadian Travellers in 1979. The society purchased and renovated the old Nightingale Rest home and renamed it the Nanaimo Travellers Lodge, providing residential care service to those needing assisted living services.

When demand for dementia care beds rose dramatically and in 2004, the lodge dedicated all of its beds to those suffering from dementia. The Eden Gardens project has been in the works for the past five years.

For more information on Travellers Lodge Society or the Eden Gardens project, please visit

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