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Joyce Shepherd, recreation therapist, Providence Living, and Dr. Jennifer Gibson, director of Quality, Practice, and Program Development, Providence Living, standing in the courtyard of The Views.
(L-R): Joyce Shepherd, recreation therapist, Providence Living, and Dr. Jennifer Gibson, director of Quality, Practice, and Program Development, Providence Living, standing in the courtyard of The Views.
Building for the Future

There’s no place like home

Providence Living is helping seniors and older adults live their best lives in home-like residences that offer social connections, choice, independence, and dignity.

by Sondi Bruner

Judi Wild-Hutter left a lucrative career in graphic design to paint by the ocean. After moving to Vancouver Island her dreams began to dissolve, and she was soon living the life of a starving artist. She felt like giving up and heading back to Alberta.

Then Lorne Hutter strolled into the small gallery and frame shop Judi ran, and they immediately hit it off. They fell in love, marrying in 1999. Lorne’s strong business mindset helped Judi build a flourishing art career – and for decades they were a dream team, travelling to art shows together while Judi’s gallery became a hot spot for tours.

“He was my knight in shining armour,” Judi says.

In 2017, Lorne was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. In 2022, he joined an adult day program, where he thrived for six months. Then his behaviour became erratic and confused. At night his mind often transported to his childhood on a farm, frequently yelling and banging on their locked door to go outside. Judi realized Lorne needed more care than she could give him, moving him into long-term care.

Unfortunately, Lorne had a difficult time adjusting, and Judi felt at a loss of what to do. One day, her social worker called to ask if she’d be interested in moving Lorne to a homelike facility that was part of a pilot project set to change life for residents in care. Judi immediately agreed.

Transforming long-term care in Canada with Providence Living at The Views

For the first time in history, there are more Canadians over the age of 65 than under 15. Aging adults are more likely to thrive when they maintain their independence and cherished routines. Through incorporating best practices from around the world, Providence Living and Providence Health Care have developed a new model that will transform public, non-profit, long-term care in Canada: Home for Us.

The Home for Us model offers residents emotional connections, autonomy, and meaning in their lives. Residents experience ordinary activities such as cooking, socializing, and access to nature, ultimately building a sense of home, safety, and belonging.

Providence Living at The Views, a first-of-its-kind care village that opened in July 2024 in Comox, takes a radically different approach to care based on the concepts of a dementia village.

Residents live in self-contained, small, 12-person households, where everyone has a private bedroom and bathroom. Each resident sets the rhythm and flow of their day, whether that’s sleeping until 10 AM or enjoying a stroll in the garden with friends. The options are endless, and all supported by a compassionate team of staff.

“The Home for Us model brings the everyday back into long-term care,” says Dr. Jennifer Gibson, Providence Living’s director of Quality, Practice, and Program Development. “We call them life’s daily pleasures, which make the everyday life experience joyful, even if they’re small.”

In addition to providing exceptional medical care, Providence Living at The Views includes amenities you’d find in most villages: a grocery store, a café, a courtyard, gardening space, a playground, a community centre, and a chapel.

Unique features include an onsite daycare for intergenerational connections, and an Indigenous sacred gathering space developed with the K’ómoks Nation as part of our commitment to reconciliation. Many of these areas will welcome the public.

“This is a flourishing, authentic, and genuine community,” Dr. Gibson says. “Emotional connections matter, and that’s something we do well. Providence Living at The Views isn’t isolated – it really is part of the broader Comox community.”

Home for Us in action: The household pilot at Mountain View 2

Listen to Dr. Jennifer Gibson, director of Quality, Practice, and Program Development, Providence Living, describe the Home for Us model.

To prepare for the transition to the Home for Us care model at Providence Living at The Views, Providence initiated a pilot project on Mountain View 2 at The Views at St. Joseph’s, which is now vacant and slated for decommissioning. This pilot demonstrated in real-time what the Home for Us care model would be like in action. This enabled Providence to refine the model and create a better experience for both residents and staff in anticipation of the new care village’s completion.

Throughout the pilot, Judi visited Lorne daily and socialized with him, staff, and other residents. She’s confident he was always safe and well-cared for, with staff who knew his habits, favourite foods, and even where he preferred to hide things.

“It was fantastic for both of us. I felt it was my second home,” Judi says. “Everyone knew my name and really cared about Lorne, and he was content. The staff were like angels that had a built-in radar system. I became very attached to the other residents and staff. They became my family and filled the void in my life.”

At Mountain View 2, Lorne enjoyed playing piano and guitar, cuddling with the household cat Winston, reading with Judi, and participating in the variety of activities available. Before the pilot he frequently tried to leave with Judi, desperately seeking a sense of home. Now, he feels he is home.

Now that Lorne has moved into Providence Living at The Views, Judi is excited about the new opportunities awaiting him. He now enjoys a larger, purpose-built space featuring his own private room with a private bathroom, along with the chance to interact with more people.

“Lorne will have more independence, and the freedom to go outside on his own. It will be more like the outside world,” she says. “The entire community is excited about the new care village, and I hope I will have the opportunity to live in a home like this in my later years.”

It takes a community to support seniors and older adults

They say it takes a village to raise a child. But people at any age need a supportive, caring community surrounding them. Providence Living’s intention is to uphold and promote human dignity by caring for the whole person: body, mind, and soul. At Providence Living at The Views, residents and their families experience a wide variety of relationships, including ones with physicians, nurses, staff, spiritual leaders, community members, children, and volunteers, who are all there to provide seniors and older adults with a well-lived life.

Joyce Shepherd, Providence Living’s recreation therapist, has waited her entire 30-year career to offer this kind of unique care for seniors.

She worked with her colleagues to redefine leisure and recreation activities for residents during the Mountain View 2 pilot, and is thrilled about the additional opportunities they can offer at Providence Living at The Views. With resident-driven recreation, leisure could mean working on a puzzle, gardening, participating in a group activity, or simply sitting by a sunny window watching the world go by.   

“We’re not all the same. We don’t want to be cared for in a cookie cutter, standardized way,” she says. “I believe that recreation and leisure pursuits are important as they provide purpose, accomplishment, belonging, and meaning. We honour each person’s life story, understand who they are and what brings them happiness and joy, and make sure each person’s uniqueness is reflected in their care plan.”

Janet Haigh, a volunteer with Providence Living, has been giving her time to seniors by assisting with outings and activities. She’s traveled abroad quite a bit, and witnessed communities where intergenerational bonding and connection are simply parts of daily life. She can’t wait to continue her volunteerism within the new model of care at Providence Living at The Views.

“It’s a wonderful, sensible return to the village model. I’m really looking forward to it,” she says. “There is so much to be gained by being with elders, laughing with them, and seeing the world through their eyes. I feel I have a fuller social life with this contact.” 

Reimagining care in BC and beyond

Judi Wild-Hutter, whose husband is a resident at Providence Living at The Views, Lorne Hutter, Judi’s husband, Shepherd, and Dr. Gibson.
(L-R): Judi Wild-Hutter, whose husband is a resident at Providence Living at The Views, Lorne Hutter, Judi’s husband, Shepherd, and Dr. Gibson.

People at any age need a supportive, caring community surrounding them to flourish. Providence Living at The Views is an enormous leap forward, but it’s only the first step in Providence Living’s vision.

Construction for a second pilot in Vancouver is in the final planning stages with construction due to begin in 2025, which will test Home for Us model in an urban setting. The goal is to adapt the village’s care model to serve diverse populations across the province and around the country.

“I feel so optimistic. This long-term care village is an incredible opportunity to begin a transformation that will create a whole different expectation for care homes. Support for this project is more than just improving a single resident’s experience. It will impact an entire community and have a positive difference at a much broader level.”

Dr. Jennifer Gibson

Providence Living is designing long-term care villages where you’d be proud to visit your loved one, or choose for yourself. And Judi knows first-hand how important this is.

“We owe so much to our seniors. All these residents – and future residents – have lived full, hardworking, and meaningful lives,” she says. “They are engineers, pilots, homemakers, veterans, artists, carpenters. They deserve to be heard, respected, and honoured.”

With your help, we can give seniors and residents the opportunity to experience a dramatic shift in their everyday lives. Your generosity can drive us forward in this transformation in care, and empower older adults to live life to the fullest.

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