Scott Fraser, MLA for Mid-Island Pacific Rim and minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, listens to Ron Hamilton during the opening of 12 new long-term care beds at Rainbow Gardens. (Karly Blats photos)
Seniors in the Alberni Valley have increased access to long-term care now that 12 new publicly-funded beds have opened at Tsawaayuus Rainbow Gardens in Port Alberni.
The expansion of Tsawaayuus—which mean rainbow in the Nuu-chah-nulth language—brings the number of long-term care beds available in the Alberni Valley to 204.
Construction at the Russell Place facility began in October 2018 and finished this summer. There are now 42 publicly-funded and two private-pay long-term care beds at the home. Tsawaayuus, which is operated by the non-profit Westcoast Native Health Care Society, also has 10 assisted living units and 20 brand new independent living apartments.
“This place is about connections, it’s about seniors getting quality care in a home-like setting and staying in the community,” said Scott Fraser, MLA for Mid Island-Pacific Rim and minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, during a grand opening celebration on Oct. 25. “New beds for seniors in Port Alberni is excellent news for this community. We know that one of the most important things for seniors is their home.”
Fraser said the new beds will offer the same high level of care at Tsawaayuus Rainbow Gardens, “which is a responsibly managed, multi-level care facility whose mission is to provide holistic, culturally confident care in a family like environment and an emphasis on Indigenous people.”
Fraser added the expansion is part of the province’s plan to invest $1 billion over the next three years to improve care for seniors.
“Our government is committed to improving services for seniors across the province, and projects like this one help us achieve that goal,” Fraser said in a press release. “People who live in this beautiful region want to age close to home, in a comfortable and friendly setting near their family and friends. This addition to long-term care resources in our community is definitely something to celebrate.”
During the grand opening, Darleen Watts, chair of the West Coast Native Housing Society, told the crowd Tsawaayuus Rainbow Gardens began as a vision of five Aboriginal women who “dared to dream.”
“They were from what was called in those days The United Native Nations,” Watts said. “They decided that they wanted this dream...the dream for them was to have a facility where they could have our people feel safe and it took them a long time. It’s amazing that they had the foresight to think that far into the future.”
Watts thanked Island Health and the Nuu-chah-nulth Economic Development Corporation for their support.
“We’re very pleased to partner with the Westcoast Native Health Care Society and make more long-term care spaces available in the community,” said Leah Hollins, chair of the board for Island Health. “This is a unique facility designed to meet the needs of local residents and help more people stay in the community they love.”