Over 15,000 people have died in care homes across the country, the highest proportion among all 38 member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Rows of rooms line a long, narrow hallway where a tall aluminum cart stacked with food trays is parked as staff at the front desk register visitors and offer surgical masks. At the other end, a large TV from the 1980s is being removed from the building, which could itself be replaced if a rezoning plan is approved.
The nearly 60-year-old Inglewood Care Centre, home to 230 residents, would be bulldozed, along with its hospital-like setting, as part of a “household of 12” model of private rooms based on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chris Russell, administrator of the home, said between 43 and 51 people live on each floor of the centre. But a rezoning application expected to go before the District of West Vancouver in April calls for a pair of buildings to accommodate two units, or households, of a dozen residents per floor.
“The big thing is you won’t have that large group dynamic,” he said, passing a dining room, the type that would no longer exist as a mass gathering place in the new home where members of the same household would eat meals together.
Baptist Housing, a non-profit provider of seniors housing with 21 homes around B.C., bought Inglewood in February 2020 with an aim to redevelop it in line with trends toward fewer residents per unit.
However, the pandemic forced the organization to reduce the number of people in each household from 23 to 12 in order to slash the incidence of COVID-19 or other infectious illnesses like seasonal influenza in keeping with guidelines set by health authorities in B.C.
The Health Ministry said design guidelines call for 12 to 18 people per unit, with a washroom in each person’s living space. Operators of owned and contracted homes may accommodate two people in a room for fewer than five per cent of residents if there’s a plan to transfer them to separate rooms on request.
Inglewood largely escaped the ravages of the pandemic and had no deaths.