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Adrian Dix gives the green light for Kitimat Dementia House


With provincial funding commitments secured, construction of the Kitimat Dementia House Project has been given the green light for a fall start.

Following the approval of the business plan last August, and the North West Regional Hospital District’s (NWRHD) approval of a formal $6,600,000 funding request earlier this month, Health Minister Adrian Dix announced March 25 that procurement is now underway to establish the schedule and budget for the project.

“What this means is the money is there, and we’re building,” said Dix.

The total cost for the facility is still unclear, but Dix said the province is committed to spending more than the approved $6.6 million if necessary.

Speaking from the the Kitimat General Hospital alongside parliamentary secretary for rural health, Jennifer Rice, Dix assured a large gathering of healthcare workers, community members and elected officials from the District of Kitimat and the Haisla Nation that the province’s commitment puts the project on track for completion sometime in 2026.

“People want the best care for their loved ones in the community they live. This is especially true when it comes to stressful diagnoses, such as Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia,” Dix said. “The long-term care home in Kitimat will offer the best quality of life for individuals living with dementia in a serene setting with dedicated staff.”

The financing announcement is the culmination of more than five years of grassroots fundraising, government lobbying and community resolve to get the project off the ground. Northern Health led the business planning for the state-of-the-art home, in partnership with the Kitimat Valley Housing Society (KVH), the District of Kitimat and the Haisla Nation.

READ MORE: Haisla Nation Donates $500K to Dementia House

Apart from provincial commitments, other major contributions include LNG Canada’s donation of $750,000 toward construction, training and a dementia awareness initiative.

Civeo Corporation donated the land at 100 Loganberry Avenue for the project through KVH, which has spearheaded an ambitious grassroots fundraising campaign to offset costs further.

KVH further stressed that the contribution of funds and gifts in kind from industry, community groups, and the residents of Kitimat, the Dementia Home have been vital to the project’s success. “Civeo with the gift of land, LNG Canada as a major contributor, Rio Tinto and other businesses contributing substantially and the generous contributions of individuals, such as Randy and Darlene Tait and numerous others, too many to list. We acknowledge and thank each and every one for believing in our dream.”

Kitimat Mayor Phil Germuth acknowledged all donors and project leaders, with special attention to KVH’s contribution at the regular council meeting later that night. “I want to thank… the members of the Kitimat Valley Housing Society for their many thousand volunteer hours which are the reason the announcement today was able to take place.”

The project revolves around the idea that residents should actively participate in daily tasks, access pertinent information effortlessly and be pivotal in decision-making concerning their care and daily routine. It’s an ethos that resonated with the Haisla Nation, who last September donated $500,000 to the project.

“It always has been a mission of the Haisla Council to support where we can,” Haisla Nation Chief Councillor Crystal Smith said. “We see the value on a holistic approach of being part of a solution, for what it means on the community level … [Elders] are the backbone of our community. They’ve endured the most difficult aspects of what it meant to be Indigenous, and they deserve this respect and care.”

The 12-room facility, consisting of 10 single-occupancy ensuite bedrooms and two respite rooms for individuals requiring 24-hour care, will be designed specifically for dementia patients, focusing on a home-like atmosphere rather than an institutional feel.

It is based on a “quality of life” model, which KVH defines as supporting individuals to enjoy life despite the effects of the disease, through the combined efforts of staff, volunteers and family members who nurture a sense of purpose, belonging and companionship. A home-like environment encourages day-to-day activities, reflecting lifelong interests, such as meal preparation, gardening, music and crafts.

The Dementia House will also feature a library, a multipurpose room, a visiting salon, and a spa to cater to residents’ varied needs.

The facility is celebrated for allowing people to age in place, without having to leave the supports of their home community in Kitimat or Kitamaat Village for larger centres.

“This project is a true example of community partners working together with passion and determination to make life easier for this segment of our aging population,” Colleen Nyce, board chair for Northern Health said.

About the Author: Quinn Bender

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