Vancouver Island University is looking to increase its presence in Parksville Qualicum Beach with the Centre for Healthy Aging.
Dr. Carol Stuart, dean of the faculty of health and human services, spoke to Qualicum Beach town council Monday about the university’s current local programs and plans.
She pointed out that Parksville Qualicum Beach’s older population is perfect for what they hope to do with the Centre for Healthy Aging, which they started developing a couple years a go.
While over 10 per cent of the population are over 75, she said the 25-50 age group — their primary market for students — is growing faster than the Island average.
With related programs like Elder College, the plan is to develop an educational hub for older adults as well as people serving the needs of older adults.
“We would like to add a base of programming anchored by a gerontology graduate diploma… that would service the needs of local professionals and the people who are entering the area as aspiring practitioners,” Stuart said.
The idea was sparked in 2012 by the Oceanside Centre for Healthy Aging, which is now the Oceanside Healthy Living Association.
“They envisioned a centre… which would generate, integrate and apply knowledge that will both enrich the lives of older adults living in the area and inform policy and action for the populations and communities across the province,” Stuart said.
The centre could include things like more local practicums from the existing bachelor of science and nursing programs, and research with the older adults in the area.
Stuart said they are still just fleshing out the model, hoping for a gradual start-up in September 2016 and they are looking for community input and involvement.
Mayor Teunis Westbroek asked about opportunities to partner up, which Stuart said VIU also likes to do, but they would have to start conversations about what each organization would like to see out of it.
They will be holding a “focused community consultation” on May 21 with local health professionals and older adults “to help us begin to plan the specific educational programming that’s needed.”
For more information on the centre visit http://cha.viu.ca.