The owners of Terraces on 7th retirement home have reversed a decision to end their contract with Vancouver Coastal Health, meaning 21 residents of subsidized assisted-living units who had been given notice will no longer have to move by the end of September.
Residents and their family members greeted the news with relief.
"As soon as I heard, I jumped in a cab and went right over to see my mom – and when I told her, she cried," said Caroline Coutts, whose mother, aged 90, lives at Terraces on 7th and was among the residents who'd been given notices.
"Right now, the mood is pretty ebullient," Ms. Coutts added.
The reversal follows a previous decision by Terraces on 7th – which is owned by Vancouver-based Retirement Concepts – to turn 21 subsidized assisted-living units at the building into units for private-pay clients, who pay a higher fee.
The move dismayed residents, some of whom were in their 90s. Family members objected, suggesting current residents should be "grandfathered" if the units changed from subsidized to private pay and warning that worries over the pending move were taking a toll on affected residents' health.
Assisted living is designed for seniors or people with disabilities who are relatively independent but need some support. People living in government-subsidized assisted-living units pay a monthly fee up to 70 per cent of their after-tax income.
Retirement Concepts was recently majority-acquired by a subsidiary of Beijing-based Anbang Insurance. Retirement Concepts says two of its sites – Terraces on 7th, along with the Gardens at Qualicum Beach – were not part of that transaction.
In a statement, Retirement Concepts president Azim Jamal said the current contract between Terraces on 7th and Vancouver Coastal Health would be extended.
"After speaking with and hearing from residents, we have worked with Vancouver Coastal Health to find a solution that will allow us to continue providing assisted living care to those residents until the original agreement end date of March, 2019," the statement said.
"The physical, social and emotional well-being of our residents is our number one priority and we regret any undue stress that this unfortunate situation has caused for residents and their families," the statement added.
The statement also said Terraces on 7th supports a new task force announced by the BC Care Providers Association (BCCPA).
The BCCPA, which represents more than 300 members that provide care for some 16,000 seniors in residential care and assisted-living sites, on Thursday said it struck a task force to look into potential sudden terminations and evictions.
Retirement Concepts is a BCCPA member.
Even though the situation at Terraces does not appear to be part of a broader trend, the BCCPA wants to ensure other residents won't face the same anxiety, BCCPA president Daniel Fontaine said.
"I still believe it is isolated but I would feel more comfortable having that confirmed," Mr. Fontaine said, adding that there is public interest in looking into the issue.
The BCCPA also apologized to residents of Terraces on 7th for the "anxiety and disruption they have experienced."
The B.C. Seniors Advocate and others have raised concerns about the supply of subsidized assisted-living units.
As of March, 2016, there were 4,408 subsidized, registered assisted-living units in British Columbia, according to a report by the B.C. Seniors Advocate. At the same time, there were 3,350 units of private, registered assisted-living units in B.C. – up 29 per cent from 2012, the report said.
"While the number of subsidized assisted living units has remained relatively constant over time, the number of private assisted living units has experienced a net increase in four of the five regional health authorities since 2012," the report said.