Project Update

In 2018, the Kitimat General Hospital Foundation made great strides in its efforts to build a dementia care home in Kitimat.

As the Foundation's mandate is to raise money for healthcare, not run healthcare facilities, we have formed a new society, the Kitimat Valley Housing Society. This new society is overseeing the design and construction of the dementia care home and is the body that will provide governance for the facility once it is operational. Many of the directors of the Foundation are also directors of the Housing Society. Doug Thomson is the president of KVHS. Carl Whicher is Vice-President, Corinne Scott is Treasurer, and Linda Thomson and Barbara Campbell share the Secretary position.

The Haisla Nation is represented on the board along with Kitimat Community Services Society which will manage the facility when it is up and running.

Civeo Corporation gave the project a fantastic boost in 2018 by gifting more than 12 acres of land on Loganberry Avenue. Many, many thanks to Civeo for this generous donation and to Jack Oviatt who initiated negotiations for this wonderful gift. If you are curious and would like to see where the dementia care home will be located, take a drive or walk down Loganberry and look for our large sign that marks the spot.

Another giant step forward in this project is that KVHS and Northern Health have completed a business plan for the facility. That plan now goes to the NHA Board of Directors for their approval. We also have engaged an architect, a passive design firm, a structural engineering firm, an electrical engineering firm and a passive house certification firm to complete the house design.

Soon we will be holding meetings with various community groups to share our plans and get feedback about the project. So far community response has been very enthusiastic. It is obvious that many Kitimat families have been touched by dementia and that they are aware that this important facility will not only provide appropriate care for people with dementia, but will result in more beds becoming available at Mountainview Lodge and fewer acute care beds being occupied by seniors waiting for long term care beds.

Pictured with some of the KVHS Directors is Bob Greaves, Civeo Corporation
(left side (l-r) Barbara Campbell, Cyndi McIntosh, Linda Thomson (right side) Corinne Scott, Margaret Sanou, Bob Greaves, Carl Whicher

Providing new levels of care in a small community like Kitimat can be challenging.  We have to work on a small scale because while we have the need, we lack the large population base of major cities. Still it is possible and the Kitimat General Hospital Foundation is working with Northern Health and the BC Housing Corporation to create a dementia care facility in Kitimat that will augment both the services of Delta King Place and Mountain View Lodge. It's important to emphasize that the project is far from a certainty as much depends on budgets and final operating costs, but we are definitely making headway where we have not done previoiusly. 

The concept under which this facility will operate is extremely important to our plans and our intention is that we will adopt what is termed a QUALITY OF LIFE model. That might sound obvious, but most of us are familiar with what is called risk aversion. Risk aversion simply means that the most important factor in day-to-day activities in the facility is removing any conceivable risk. Quality of Life means that some reasonable risk is acceptable if it improves quality of life. 

For example, in a Quality of Life setting, residents may be encouraged to help with the preparation of meals if they wanted to do that. The possible risk is that an individual may suffer a cut from chopping vegetables, or may spill a hot drink. However, in so many cases being involved and active in one's life is a very positive aspect of a resident's life and therefore the risk is acceptable. We concentrate on Quality of Life. A risk aversion model would not allow such activities. 

The bottom line is we want this facility to be as much a home to the people who live there as is humanly possible. Leaving one's home to move into an institution is always traumatic in a host of different ways. Finding strategies to make life meaningful and engaging is important to us. Our plan is not only to have a building to house people, but also a place where residents can find meaning.

The images below show are from a very preliminary concept drawing. All the rooms open into the common area that includes various seating areas and a common dining table as well as an open kitchen.  There is an open laundry with familiar laundry equipment, a spa for having baths (each room has its own shower unit), a small salon for cutting hair, a library, outside patio with greenhouse and landscaped walkways. All of the above designed to avoid the confusion that so often is a part of a dementia resident's life.

All areas of the facility will be wheel chair accessible and each room will have its own bathroom and shower, a small windowed seating area for entertaining guests when privacy is desired.  

We will provide updates of our progress as we move further into this project.