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Oceanside Hospice planning for expansion

Oceanside Hospice Society has a plan to demolish the 100-year-old Valhalla House and build a much larger facility on the town-owned, Crescent Road land. - JOHN HARDING PHOTO
Oceanside Hospice Society has a plan to demolish the 100-year-old Valhalla House and build a much larger facility on the town-owned, Crescent Road land.
— image credit: JOHN HARDING PHOTO

Oceanside Hospice has put a proposal to its landlord, eyeing a demolition of the current 100-year-old Valhalla House and an expanded, 4,000-square-foot, $1 million facility to help the dying and their families.

The landlord, the Town of Qualicum Beach, says the group needs to better solidify its relationship, including funding questions, with Island Health before any such project can be considered by town council.

"This (current location and facility) is not ideal for our circumstances," said Oceanside Hospice executive director Lynne Wood.

"The board is starting to think we need to expand our operations. Our vision is to have an independent hospice. It's taking the town a long time to review our proposal."

The current facility, Valhalla House, was built in 1913 and willed to the town in the late 1990s by Lillian Dill. The 1,600-square-foot house does not have any palliative beds but is home to programs like counselling, healing touch and equipment rentals. The society has to juggle its set up to find space for the programs each week, and has much of its equipment for rent (like hospital beds) stored off site.

"This is not a residential hospice — it's an outreach centre," said Wood.

Town of Qualicum Beach director of planning Luke Sales confirmed the town received drawings for the new plan last year. He also said issues around zoning, or the society's actual plan for the land, are not standing in the way.

"That's probably the least of the concerns," said Sales. "The potential is there. The thing they will have to work out is their relationship with Island Health."

As for palliative beds in the region, Island Health currently has 13 beds at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. There are other palliative beds at long-term-homes in the region for its residents. Sales said it's his understanding health regions are looking more at putting palliative beds in their existing buildings, as opposed to free-standing hospices.

"The current trend in hospice care is to integrate it into other facilities," said Sales, while Wood said "most people do say they wish to die at home."

For more information about the programs and services of Oceanside Hospice, visit: www.oceansidehospice.com.

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