Four years ago Sooke Elderly Citizens’ Housing Society received a development permit for a much needed expansion to its facilities at Ayre Manor.
Recently, the society had to renew that permit for another three years, still hopeful it would eventually be able to expand to meet the community’s needs.
But despite having had the plans developed and being “shovel ready” for years, it’s unlikely that there will be any increase in the number of beds for Sooke seniors any time soon, says Tim Orr, director of residential services for the Vancouver Island Health Authority.
“There is only so much funding available and a lot of care homes that would like to have additional beds. Right now our priority is the central and North Island. I couldn’t give you an estimate of when funding would be available for Sooke or the Greater Victoria area. It may be years,” said Orr.
The relationship between VIHA and SECHS ability to build an addition to the facility in Sooke is a complicated one.
VIHA does not provide the funds for the physical construction of the addition to the manor. Those funds are available through B.C. Housing as interim financing and then assumed by a mortgage through a traditional lender like a bank.
But neither B.C. Housing or the banks will provide funds until VIHA commits to subsidizing the 68 new beds in the new addition to ensure a revenue flow that would allow SECHS to cover the mortgage.
Without the subsidy, SECHS would not be able to fill the beds as the costs to the clients are generally prohibitive, approaching $90,000 per year.
With that subsidy not in the cards, the human impact of the situation can be devastating, says Sandy Pedneult, chair of SECHS.
“We have Sooke residents in need of care who are currently being housed in a care home in Victoria. They only want to come back to their home community as they are far away from their loved ones and the community where they’ve always lived with no options to come home to Sooke,” Pedneult said.
She explained that Ayre Manor provides a continuum of care that ranges from independent living to assisted living and all the way to two hospice care beds at the facility.
“It’s always been our intention to have a full range of care options so that a resident can move from one level of care to another as they age and require more care. That doesn’t work when all the spaces are full,” she said.
The situation is so difficult that there have been cases of clients hiding their increased care needs from workers.
“They know that if they need to move into a higher level of care and no spots are available here, they may end up having to move out of the community to an open spot somewhere else on the Island,” said Kerry Williams, director of administration for Ayre Manor.
“They hide the fact that they need more help because they don’t want to leave their home community, and I understand that. They shouldn’t have to. We owe them more than that.”