Kamloops is getting 125 of 527 new residential-care beds announced by Interior Health Friday.
Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake said the new facilities are slated to be built and open by 2013. They include 482 beds in new buildings and 45 in existing facilities.
The increased beds will have an annual operating budget of $31 million.
Donna Lommer, vice-president of residential services and chief financial officer for Interior Health, said the request for proposals will go out within the next two weeks. She expected contracts to be awarded within a couple of months and construction to start in spring of 2011.
Kamloops actually has the fastest growth in seniors over age 75 projected for the next three years in IHA, she said.
All of the new beds are for residential care for seniors with the highest needs.
Some of those seniors end up in beds in hospitals, such as Royal Inland Hospital, as they wait for spaces to open up within care facilities.
It costs $850 a day for someone to be in a bed at RIH, and $175 a day in a residential-care facility.
"Having these facilities for people to move into is a huge cost savings," said Lake.
Lommer said Interior Health strives to get people into residential care within 30 days, but it can take up to 90 days. If it weren't for this latest round of new beds, that wait would be creeping up toward 120 days, she said.
Royal Inland administrator Marg Brown said there are about 12 people in her hospital right now who are waiting for residential-care spaces. It was higher, but two months ago IHA 'bought' extra beds for some of those patients.
The new beds were also welcomed by Brenda Prevost with the Kamloops Seniors' Information Centre.
"We get a lot of calls and requests from seniors looking for affordable housing" including residential care, she said.
Friday's announcement breaks down as follows:
p Kamloops, 125 beds
p Central Okanagan, 100 beds
p Salmon Arm, 71 beds
p South Okanagan, 66 beds
p North Okanagan, 46 beds
p Grand Forks, 40 beds
p Invermere, 34 beds
p Williams Lake, 100 Mile House and Keremeos will get 28, 14 and three beds respectively, opening in existing Interior Health facilities.