The District of Houston has renewed its call to convert Cottonwood Manor to one providing 24/7 residential care.
“As an assisted living complex, Cottonwood Manor does not provide overnight healthcare staff, resulting in residents incidents such as falls without assistance until the following morning,” the council stated in a document prepared in anticipation of a meeting with health minister Adrian Dix.
And when assisted living residents find themselves needing more care than what is provided and have to leave, they are “faced with excessive wait times for care with no space available in the residential care facility [at the] Houston Health Centre or other long-term care in surrounding communities,” the District added.
It further noted 911 calls for assistance for residents overloads “the already strained emergency department of the Bulkley Valley Hospital in Smithers.”
Cottonwood Manor has two kinds of housing, six units for assisted living residents, up from five as of last year, and a newly constructed wing containing 16 independent living units. The manor is administered by the Smithers Community Services Association with the assisted living units managed under a contract with the Northern Health Authority and the independent units coming under the jurisdiction of the provincial BC Housing agency.
The Houston Health Centre has four residential or complex care beds which are always full as are two beds set aside for respite and palliative care.
And with 12 per cent of Houston’s population now over the age of 65, additional seniors housing is a necessity, the council has stated.
“Although the District is carrying out work to complete a housing needs assessment, it has been clear for years that more housing for seniors would be required in Houston,” it continued.
The council said Cottonwood’s rooms are capable of supporting a conversion to 24/7 residential care.
At the same time, it also expressed its willingness to work with the province and non-profit societies to develop other assisted living accommodation or other suitable housing for seniors.
For its part, the Northern Health Authority says the emphasis now for seniors is on providing comprehensive care so they can remain in their own residences for as long as possible.
“This work has included adding capacity to primary care nursing [a half time position], including home care visits. We also recently added a [half time] licensed practical nursing position that supports the adult day program, home support and long-term care at the Houston Health Centre,” says Eryn Collins from the health authority.
Home care, based on a resident’s needs, is also provided to those living in Cottonwood’s independent living units and the assisted living residents also receive services, she added.
Northern Health also notes that assisted living residents at Cottonwood Manor are equipped with the Lifeline service, allowing them to call for outside assistance when needed during overnight periods.
The provincial ambulance service, through its community paramedicine program, also regularly visits people in their homes to check on their health status.