By: Lubna El Elaimy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Burnaby Beacon

Seniors in the Robson Valley and the rest of BC will soon be able to access a free service that connects them with retirement living, long-term care, assisted living, and home health services. EngAge BC, the operating arm of the BC Care Providers Association (BCCPA) developed the new website, Route 65, which is a relaunch of an earlier version of the site. The new Route 65 will go live on Nov. 6.

Terry Lake, CEO of BCCPA described the new site as a wayfinding site where seniors and their families can find the right living, wellness, or care options to suit their needs.

“With an aging population, it is becoming more and more important that people start to think about how they want to spend their retirement years and in what type of environment,” said Lake. “Sometimes, things happen that people need a level of care they don’t know how to access. This is a one-stop place where people can search for different services in that whole spectrum of living wellness and care for seniors within their community.”

According to Lake, the original site, which was launched in early 2020 shortly before the COVID-19 lockdown, was the first of its kind in BC. Before the launch of Route 65, seniors and their families had to do their research and rely on search engines, advertisements, or word of mouth to find retirement, assisted living, or home care options. EngAge BC used feedback from users of the old site to redesign the new one, adding several new features to improve user experience and accessibility.
With the older version of the site, users could only search using the residence name, city, and service type. The new site adds eight new filtering options: language, private or subsidized, types of amenities offered, healthcare services offered, and lifestyle services offered. Website visitors can also find out if the home health organization or retirement community is “Assurity approved” which is the BCCPA quality assurance program to confirm that organizations are living up to their quality standards.

In addition, the new Route 65 will explain the publicly funded system in BC. Lake added that in BC there are some services like long-term care and assisted living that are supported by the government and others that seniors pay for. This can be confusing and the new site aims to explain and clarify it. Other features include the ability to change the font for better visibility, and search functionality that allows users to include filters such as the pet-friendliness of a retirement community, and whether it assists with meals and cleaning.

Lake said the site is an important step forward in providing better senior care in the province. “In a place like Burnaby which is rapidly growing and is also aging as our communities are in BC, we think there’s a tremendous need for this kind of service in the community,” Lake said.

With the new site, there will be a mechanism for collecting feedback from users to further improve functionality and user experience. Lake said EngAge BC is also planning to add new artificial intelligence (AI) features to help enhance visitor experience and provide voice-activated search options as well.