Forced from home: Seniors seek local care options

by Andru McCracken


Northern Health reports that they are ‘engaged in discussions’ with local non-profits and BC Housing in to answer a serious need for intermediate care in the Robson Valley.

Intermediate care refers to a level of support for seniors to allow them to continue living independently but provides daily professional assistance. This care is not currently available in the valley.

“Northern Health’s role is ensuring a continuum of care that ideally keeps seniors independent, at home or in the community, for as long as possible before they need long-term care,” said Northern Health spokesperson Eryn Collins.

During a recent meeting of the Old Age Pensioners Organization, McBride Village councillor Lucille Green said Village Council been advocating for intermediate care to the Province.

Ron and Sarah Simonton know that they won’t be able to stay on their own for much longer, but currently there aren’t good options available to them. Northern Health and local partners may be inching towards a solution. /ANDRU MCCRACKEN

A solution couldn’t come soon enough for seniors living at Beaverview Lodge in McBride.

Ingeborg Richter is 80 years old and has lived at the Beaverview Lodge for 20 years. She said that not having intermediate care available makes life for residents untenable. She sees firsthand the experience of her neighbours who are often repeatedly hospitalized and released to the same conditions that brought them there.

“I cannot accept this system,” said Richter.

She said she won’t let the same circumstances befall her.

“I have something in mind to prevent that from happening,” she said.

Ron and Sarah Simonton are in their 80s and still live on their own.

Simontons lived at the Beaverview Lodge for 12 years, but they left after a spate of bad management. Ron is spry at 82, but he is realistic about what is coming for him and his wife.

“Sarah is going to have a knee replacement,” said Ron. “She’s 84 and I’m 82. There is going to be a time when we can’t take care of ourselves.”

His children in Alberta have asked them to move there, and while it’s true that there are intermediate care facilities there, he doesn’t want to go.

“I don’t want to move there. I love it here,” said Simonton. “This is my home.”

Simonton said many of their friends have had to move to Prince George, the Okanagan and to Valleyview.

Sandy Birnie is awaiting hip surgery.  Her home is two stories with a half bath on the lower level. She’s not looking forward to recovering post operation. She said intermediate care could provide suites for people recovering from major surgery.

Linda Fry has been a part of the Robson Health Association since 1979, and she’s is deeply interested in intermediate care.

Fry believes that McBride could be an age-friendly community, offering a combination of accessible housing, intermediate care, and supported care.

“If there was more independent housing, our existing Beaverview Lodge could turn that into supported or assisted living where meals could be done right there,” she said. “The possibilities and potential are a reasonable fit for the community. We have a hospital, the community is nicely laid out and flat for seniors to get around.”

Fry looks back at all the seniors who have been shipped out in their final years.

“Edra Carmichael, Liz Hann, These are real people to me. There they are kenneled until they die.”

“Is that who we want be?” asks Fry.

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