Travellers Lodge has eyes on Eden

Non-profit group has big plans for new 120-bed facility.

Kay Leyland gets her hands dirty with pizza sauce and green peppers during a healthy cooking session to celebrate nutrition month at Nanaimo Travellers Lodge, a dementia care facility, Wednesday. Many seniors have past experiences cooking and the sessions bring back memories.

Kay Leyland gets her hands dirty with pizza sauce and green peppers during a healthy cooking session to celebrate nutrition month at Nanaimo Travellers Lodge, a dementia care facility, Wednesday. Many seniors have past experiences cooking and the sessions bring back memories.

Nanaimo Travellers Lodge wants to build a paradise on Earth for people suffering from forms of dementia to receive compassionate care.

The non-profit organization hopes to break ground this fall on Eden Gardens, a 120-bed residential care facility, on two hectares of land in the 1900 block of Northfield Road.

The estimated at $35.8 million project would adhere to the Eden Care philosophy, a care model that focuses on creating a home-like environment and using plant, music and art therapies to enrich the lives of elders.

Travellers Lodge currently operates a 90-bed facility at 1298 Nelson St. However, it was created from three separate buildings and the majority of the rooms don’t meet the province’s size standards – most are 30 to 40 per cent below the requirement.

Bob Wilson, a NTL board member, said the facility can’t be upgraded to meet those standards.

The non-profit organization is in discussions with the Vancouver Island Health Authority, which funds the residential care beds, regarding its proposal to increase by 30 beds.

“We are working with VIHA to come to an agreement so we can move forward with this as partners,” said Wilson.

Anya Nimon, a VIHA spokeswoman, said VIHA hasn’t committed to the project at this time.

“We find it’s an interesting project and will be interested in discussing it with them in the future,” said Nimon.

No contingency plan has been created yet in case negotiations with VIHA fail.

“Our work to date with VIHA has been promising and we’re going forward on the premise that the building project will be proceeding,” said Greg Gaudaur, administrator of the lodge. “If the decision is not to fund, then we will have to contemplate the alternatives if and only when that the decision has been communicated.”

The lodge is seeking volunteers to begin and fundraising campaign in the near future. The organization needs to raise $1.5 million, with the remaining costs are expected to be covered through the deal with VIHA, a mortgage and potential sale of the Nelson Street property.

The Alzheimer Society of Canada indicates the number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia is expected to double over the next decade. In Canada in 2010, 505,351 people suffered from a form of dementia that number is estimated to surpass one million in 2035.

“There is going to be an influx of dementia sufferers in our community and in communities across the country,” said Wilson

With that expected increase, it’s important to have facilities like Eden Gardens to meet future needs, said Wilson.

“It will provide the highest level of compassionate dementia care to Nanaimo,” said Wilson. Eden Gardens will be split between private residential space and a public common area. It will have eight living areas with 16 private rooms, with communal living and dining rooms. Residential and day program space will include a bistro or cafe, church and worship room, rooftop garden, hair salon, art studio, small aviary for residential pets, a library, and a snoezelen room. The day programs are intended to help dementia sufferers remain in their home as long as possible.

The alternative Eden Philosophy therapies are currently not covered by Health Canada.

Jane Hope, support and education coordinator for the Alzheimer Society of B.C. North and Central Vancouver Island, said those programs are fabulous and she’s seen the affect they have on dementia sufferers first hand. Her mother was bed ridden and when she began music therapy she started to walk around and interact with her environment again.

The additional beds is also a feature she likes.

“The increase in beds is absolutely necessary in the community. We have an aging population in this area and there is a need and will be a need,” she said. “We need to be prepared as a community with more beds.”

The construction of the building is expected to produce 155 man hours of employment and once complete NTL could hire up to 30 new employees.

People can view the design concept and information about Eden Gardens on the Nanaimo Travellers Lodge website.

For more information please call 250-585-5505 or go to www.nanaimotravellerslodge.com.

Nanaimo News Bulletin

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