The Eagle Valley Senior Citizens Housing Society is planning to include dementia care.

Sicamous seniors housing expansion planned

Eagle Valley Senior Citizens Housing Society has its sights on expanding its site and services.

Work is underway to expand senior’s housing and care options in Sicamous.

The Eagle Valley Senior Citizens Housing Society has its sights on expanding its site that is currently home to The Lodge, the Eagle Valley Haven and the Eagle Valley Manor. That expansion, to be done in three phases, would include the building of eight new supportive housing units (for seniors who need help with meals, housekeeping and laundry), the repurposing of The Lodge to serve tenants requiring dementia care and, as a third phase, the construction of a 50-unit apartment-style building.

Society administrator Kaija Isherwood says the group recently completed a needs assessment and feasibility study, the results of which confirmed a need for more seniors housing in Sicamous.

“We already have waiting lists for all of our facilities… but we’re looking to make sure we can see there is a need even from the people (local), not just the waiting list that we have,” said Isherwood. “Because a lot of the people on our waiting list are people that live out of town – used to live in Sicamous, moved away, want to retire back in Sicamous.”

Next for the society is to acquire letters of support from the District of Sicamous, Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo and North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold in order to apply for funding from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation for funding to complete a business plan and conceptual drawings of the proposed expansions.

“The other thing we’re doing is BC Housing has just put out an expression of interest for provincial investment in affordable housing…,” said Isherwood. “We are going to submit an application to them so they can see we are, in the future, going to be looking for their assistance to build this 50-unit building… We want to make it on the ground floor so we are actually there with our application even though our building is probably not going to happen for the next couple of years.”

Regarding the smaller projects that comprise phases one and two, Isherwood said the society would be looking to local financial institutions for partnerships, as well as BC Housing and Interior Health.

Isherwood said these phases will provide more options in Sicamous for people to “age in place,” and not have to rely on services outside of the community.

“Right now, the highest level of care we have in Sicamous is assisted living, which does not have any kind of dementia component to it,” said Isherwood.  “And we’re already seeing dementia is going to be one of the bigger medical issues for the future, and we don’t want to have to have our dementia tenants or people that have dementia living in Sicamous have to go for care all the way in Salmon Arm.

“In most cases, it’s the husband or the wife that gets dementia, and by the time they do, the one that doesn’t have dementia can no longer drive to see their family member in Salmon Arm. And that’s happening already – we already know of quite a few couples where the dementia person is in Salmon Arm and the other person can’t even get in to see them. So that’s why we are looking at taking The Lodge and making that into dementia care.”

Isherwood emphasized the vision for The Lodge is to make it part of a secure village concept that would include all of the society’s neighbouring housing/care facilities. She notes it would be similar to some of the ideas being discussed at the municipal level in regards to being a dementia-friendly community.

“We can’t make the village to be all of Sicamous, but we can have our safe village to be within our complex,” said Ishwerwood.

Sicamous council has agreed to write a letter of support for the housing society.