The latest seniors’ care facility to open in Kamloops includes locks on residents’ doors — a safety feature that older buildings don’t have.
Health Minister Terry Lake pointed out the locks at the new Brocklehurst Gemstone Care Centre let residents leave the rooms, but can restrict unwanted people from getting in.
“We’re making great strides and there will be a time when all facilities will be like this,” he said Monday during Gemstone’s grand opening.
An elderly Kamloops man with dementia attacked at Overlander Extended-Care Hospital died from his injuries in June. He was on the list to get into Gemstone. Since Jack Shippobotham’s death, locks were put on some of the rooms in the Overlander unit where he had lived.
Lake said Interior Health is looking at installing the door locks throughout all its residential-care facilities, but the change takes time and money.
But Monday was a celebration of Gemstone’s opening. The new building has 130 beds; 125 are publicly funded through Interior Health, the remaining five are private-pay.
There is a dementia unit with 10 beds, while other ‘neighbourhoods’ have 15 residents, said Mary McDougall, president of Buron Healthcare, which built Gemstone.
The facility will employ 200 people in full-time, part-time or casual jobs. Residents have been moving in throughout the summer and the building will be full next month.
“Many,many lives will be touched by this building,” she said.
One of Gemstone’s first residents, Clause Spiekermann, was given a microphone for his thoughts at the opening ceremony.
“As I came into it, it was like moving into fantasy land,” he said.
Lake said the completion of Gemstone means Interior Health has fulfilled its commitment to create 527 residential-care units within the region.
“Seniors helped build our province and they continue to play a role in our communities.”
More residential-care beds mean fewer people will be in hospital beds waiting for appropriate places to go to, he said. So facilities like Gemstone help ease the pressures on the acute-care system.
IHA board member David Gillespie emphasized that point.
“We must remember these beds support the entire continuum of health,” he said.