Still on guard at The Gardens


In its own dedicated parking space outside The Gardens in Qualicum Beach, is a freshly painted green and white bus, and emblazoned on its windows is the legend, “So nice to come home to.”

At the moment, The Gardens’ residents would accept that statement. But those comforting words stand to become nothing more than idle chatter.

Since those July meetings with the facility’s new owners, The Gardens’ residents have been living under a cloud; they are wary and uncomfortable with the threat of drastic changes to the life and lifestyle they bought into when they made The Gardens their home.

“We looked at other facilities and what they had to offer, and we chose to come here,” stated a Gardens’ resident.

Residents made that choice because they wanted the space, the grace, and the amenities of The Gardens.

Now, the very reasons for those choices are under fire. New owners, for their own reasons, want to change, move, add, squeeze, and otherwise discombobulate (i.e. to upset the composure of) the very nature and raison d’etre of The Gardens.

Following a second group of meetings in August with the new owners’ quick thinking and fast talking representatives, residents of The Gardens again made themselves heard loud and clear when they repeated their first negative response to the “new and improved” plans and drawings.

It’s the composition of The Gardens, with its first, second, and fourth floors of independent residents, that those residents can more ably stand up and speak for themselves.

However, there’s another floor to be reckoned with — the third floor, which is the care floor, or complex care.

Some of this floor’s residents, through illness or accident are less mobile and voluble, and they are the ones who now stand to lose the most under the new regime’s new plans.

Much credit is due the independent residents who have stood up for those less able on the third floor. For while the second round of plans gave important concessions to others, the third floor got a mere sop to satisfy them while absolutely destroying their current quality of life.

Medical practitioners know that the well being of people whose health is less than optimal is dependent not only on physical and mental care and stimulation, but on meaningful social care as well.

In the apparent interests of adding more top-paying private rooms by taking away present space and amenities from third floor residents, the new owners seem thoughtlessly bent on lessening, even taking away, these three necessities for a reasonably pleasant life for these people. Is it in part because third floor residents are less able to stand up to the threat?

Take away the sunroom/lounge — a source of natural light to the core of the building, and the one site available for quiet in-service meetings or for discussion and story time for many in wheelchairs, and their one real view on the outside world. (Oh yes – a third of it, crowded with chairs, will remain, they say.)

Take away current dining spaces and TV lounge and remove two more natural light areas to plug in more paying rooms, adding small cramped “activity” lounges in their place and also take away the entertainment/activity/celebration area and put in the displaced dining tables.


Wow — great obstacle course for all those wheelchairs and for the servers with hot soup trolleys, and the care attendants who help at meals.

It’s also great and the nurses with their medication carts.

Take away the open area and comfortable furniture where residents enjoy weekly musical or other entertainment, collect for seasonal celebrations, or Friday happy hours, or relax to read or visit with friends and family. (See — makes room for dining tables?)

“Oh, and we’re going to put electric heaters in the ceilings of the two outdoor balconies so third floor residents can use them all year round.”

Sure, and where are the care attendants … between getting people up, washing and dressing them, making beds, feeding, helping, and stopping for an instant cheery hello, putting them down for naps, collecting them for activities, going to find the time to bundle up these frail people in outdoor clothing to put them outside where their heads will be warmed while their feet freeze?

Won’t the residents just love being out there in the cold of January?

I quote Professor Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs and Steel “… infectious diseases which [arise] as a consequence of the intermingling of many people … in fixed locations.” (Plenty of room for more, here.)

And I take the liberty of paraphrasing a friend’s comment on factory chickens — “The modern way of looking at [people] is like looking at a commodity.”


Nancy Whelan is a regular columnist for the Parksville Qualicum Beach News.


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