Aging is an inevitable part of life, but getting older doesn’t have to mean losing our independence, social connections, and sense of home. Providence Living is revolutionizing long-term care in BC, with the help of a $1 million contribution from the Aune Foundation towards a brand-new project.
Providence Living at The Views, set to open this summer in the Comox Valley, is Canada’s first publicly funded, non-profit care home that is based on the concept of a dementia village. It will incorporate a social culture to offer a place that genuinely looks and feels like home, in addition to providing exceptional medical care. It’s this people-centred approach that inspired the Aune Foundation’s gift.
“It’s an innovative model and a much more effective one,” says Trevor Aune, Aune Foundation’s executive director. “It really puts the residents – and their quality of life – at the centre of everything.”
We need better long-term care options
For the first time in history, there are more Canadians over the age of 65 than under 15. In BC alone, the number of seniors is expected to reach 1.6 million by 2036.
While most seniors want to remain comfortable and live independently as they age, over a third of seniors are currently facing two or more chronic health conditions. In the most complex cases, living in a long-term care facility will be required.
With a long history of excellence in seniors care, Providence is leading the charge in creating long-term care homes that prioritize choice, social connections, and access to nature for residents. And we’re doing it with the help of generous donors like the Aune Foundation.
Revolutionary new model of care, supported by forward-thinking philanthropy
Aune Foundation, established in 2019 to honour a family member with Alzheimer’s, supports projects that advance brain research and mental health. A few years ago, Aune first heard about the concept of a ‘dementia village’, a care model developed in the Netherlands that creates a safe, residential, and community-based environment for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
When his uncle was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Aune witnessed how he thrived with kind, full-time support. Then, seeing another family friend who was near-death flourish for another decade because of dedicated at-home care further cemented Aune’s desire to invest in quality care for seniors.
“It’s so evident how much people can improve if they have care and socialization,” he says. “Once people advance to a certain stage of Alzheimer’s, they kind of get forgotten. That’s the opposite of what Providence Living at The Views does. I was inspired by this project because it’s an opportunity for people to continue living full lives beyond their diagnosis.”
Home for Us: Doing things differently
Through incorporating best practices from around the world, Providence has developed a new “made-in-BC” model of care that will revolutionise long-term care in Canada. We call it: Home for Us.
The overarching principles of this model of care aims to provide seniors and residents a living environment that encourages participation in everyday activities such as cooking and making social connections, ultimately building a sense of safety and belonging. Gone will be the long, hospital-like hallways and room configurations with multiple beds; instead, each resident will have their own private bedroom and bathroom, within a home-like setting.
Depending on the unique needs of the community, village grounds may feature amenities like a village hall, cafe and bistro, grocery store, playgrounds and gardens, and a sacred space for worship and reflection, including Indigenous ceremonial practices.
“The biggest value Providence’s new care villages will give to residents is the ability to see the village as an extension of their own home – a place that honours their values, traditions, and interests,” says Mark Blandford, president and CEO of Providence Living. “And they will see that we can convert our compassion and hard work into a day well lived for them and other seniors.”
This integral shift from institutional care to a social-relational model of care is what appeals to Aune about Providence Living at The Views.
“Residents can improve their relationship with their loved ones, who can come visit them in a more social setting where they have options of things to do,” he says. “The relationships can become more about celebrating time spent together, rather than taking care of the individuals.”
Advancing research to enhance world-class seniors care
Global research on the dementia village concept is limited. With the construction of new homes, Providence Living is in a position to change this. Once the Providence Living care villages open, they will be able to continue their research, collect real-time data from residents to help refine the model, and use those learnings to build more person-centred care villages across the province. Learnings will be shared widely to help create a movement of change in long-term care provincially and beyond.
For Aune, contributing to this project is also a chance to be a part of the trailblazing, robust research that builds a better future for seniors.
“This is the beginning of a change in how Canada approaches long-term care,” he says. “We see this as a research opportunity that can affect the approach nationally and beyond. We love to give to projects that can seed more change.”
Public, non-profit care available to all of us
From the very beginning, Providence has fostered a culture of putting people first. Each and every one of us deserves compassionate care, equality, and respect – a purpose that Aune stands behind, and is proud to support. Providence Living’s new model of care and villages will be public and accessible to all, no matter their financial situation.
“Up until now, this model of care has only been available to a small portion of the population who can afford it,” he points out. “This is an opportunity for anyone to have access to it. I think people will feel hopeful that their loved ones, and themselves, will be less fearful during their last years. This could be a reason for people not to dread that time.”
Aune wholeheartedly believes that we all have a role to play in creating a better life for seniors.
“Almost none of us are going to be immune to the effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia. It’s practically inevitable a family member, a loved one, or yourself will be affected,” he says. “It’s not something we can ignore. This is an opportunity to be the leaders in making the change that’s necessary for long-term care.”
We are poised to alter the culture of long-term care. Together, we are working toward a future where communities around the world will be empowered to provide care that puts residents first. But we can’t do it alone. Please join us as we transform long-term care and the lives of seniors in BC and beyond.