Cowichan Lodge reopens Thursday as a mental-health facility

Crews worked on Cowichan Lodge throughout last year as part of the long journey to get it ready for tomorrow’s reopening as a mental health facility. - file
Crews worked on Cowichan Lodge throughout last year as part of the long journey to get it ready for tomorrow’s reopening as a mental health facility.
— image credit: file

Cowichan Lodge's transformation from seniors home to modern mental-health facility opens for public viewing Thursday.

Opening ceremonies for Duncan-based Cowichan Lodge Mental Health Facility for Seniors and Adults happens at 2 p.m. on Feb. 21.

The $9-million renovation — completed on budget — saw $8.5 million from provincial taxpayers, plus $500,000 from the Cowichan Valley Regional Hospital District, revamp wings A and C at lodge just off Tzouhalem Road.

Seniors community-based, outpatient services is proposed for lodge space outside two wings now upgraded for mental patients.

"These two renovated wings will include tertiary mental-health beds, including 24 beds in wing C that will serve seniors, and 27 beds in wing A that will serve adults," said Val Wilson of the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

All client rooms are private (single occupancy) and include private bathroom facilities.

"Cowichan Lodge will provide specialized care for people with persistent mental illness, and care will be delivered to clients by clinical teams including psychiatrists and geriatric psychiatrists," she explained of the project started about two years ago, amid some local worries about public safety from lodge patients.

"The security of neighbours, staff and clients is paramount," said Wilson.

"The renovation included putting landscaping and fencing in place around the facility.

"A community liaison staff person, trained in mental-health care, will be on the grounds during school hours, including student drop-off and pick-up times," she said regarding nearby Queen of Angels School.

Community members will also have 24/7 telephone access to lodge staff, and staff will be outside at key times.

Also, a good-neighbour commitment is in place with folks living near the lodge.

"This will ensure ongoing discussion to promote good relationships," Wilson said.

Regarding the remaining lodge space, the Cowichan Lodge Redevelopment Committee recently backed a proposal for seniors' outpatient services.

Those services would promote wellness and help seniors avoid unnecessary hospital or residential-care admission, and offer support for folks transferring from hospital back home, Wilson explained.

Seniors services could span assessment and stabilization, an outreach team, falls-prevention clinic, outreach continence service, advance-care planning education, plus wound care and IV clinics.

This community-developed proposal will now be considered by VIHA brass.

Approval is dependent on available resources – both financial and human, and dependent on concurrent priorities, she said.

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