Council wants the six assisted living units at Cottonwood Manor converted to more comprehensive residential care. (Angelique Houlihan photo)

Council wants the six assisted living units at Cottonwood Manor converted to more comprehensive residential care. (Angelique Houlihan photo)

Council sharpens focus for improved seniors care

Wants Cottonwood Manor units converted to long term care

Residential care improvements for seniors both here in Houston and in Smithers remain high on the list the District of Houston council’s priorities, indicates briefing notes prepared in advance of a convention of B.C.’s local governments next month in Whistler.

The notes are in preparation for council asking senior Northern Health Authority officials who will be at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention to back the conversion of the six assisted living units at Cottonwood Manor, now being run by the Smithers Community Association, to full-on long term care.

“The assisted living designation is a level below long-term care, and its care provisions do not extend into the evening and overnight hours,” the notes indicate.

“As a result, residents who have incidents, such as falls, do not receive assistance until the following morning.”

“After several incidents, residents are considered living beyond their ability according to the facility’s policies and procedures and are forced to find other accommodations.”

The notes further point out that there are only four long-term care beds at the Houston Health Centre and two beds there offering respite or temporary care.

“Long-term care bed availability does not meet the existing demand and the primary needs of Houston’s senior population,” the notes continue.

Overall, council’s advocacy for an expansion of senior care and housing extends to offering to work with Northern Health, the health ministry and the provincial BC Housing agency to increase all levels of senior housing within the community.

Six more independent living units were added to the Pleasant Valley Village complex this year but there remains a wait list of approximately 50 residents.

But council also wants a stake in the plan to increase senior care and housing options at the long term care Bulkley Lodge facility in Smithers.

Bulkley Lodge does become a facility of choice for Houston residents when the need arises for increased levels of care as Smithers is close enough for regular family and other visits and contacts.

“Given the limited offer of long-term care services in Houston, seniors seek to go to Smithers to stay close to home, to their families and social networks,” the notes state.

Northern Health is to put together a business plan for Bulkley Lodge but it’s not yet known how Houston’s interests will be represented as planning progresses.

The briefing notes do indicate the business plan would be financed by the North West Regional Hospital District, a taxation entity that does collect taxes from Houston and area residents and businesses.

When finished, the business plan would be submitted to the provincial government, a necessary step for financial approval leading to construction.