A planned community in the Comox Valley will see an innovative shift in care for people with dementia.

Providence Residential & Community Care (PRCC) Services Society announced plans this week to build a dementia village, in partnership with Island Health and the Ministry of Health.

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced Wednesday the province’s commitment to the project, which will see the addition of 150 permanent beds in the Comox Valley.

"The construction of a new care home and creation of campus of care will allow the local health-care system to provide care that is flexible and responsive for those living with dementia and complex health issues,” Dix said in a news conference.

The dementia village will be constructed at St. Joseph’s Hospital, and is being modelled after successful facilities in the Netherlands. It represents a shift in care that supports a “person-centric” model.

"Creating a community that is a hub of a activity that focuses putting the needs of the person at the forefront won’t only benefit the senior, but also their family," says Jennifer Stewart, manager of advocacy and education at the Alzheimer’s Society of B.C.

PRCC’s plans include providing facilities that both seniors and their families can enjoy, including a grocery store, music room, and pub in the village.

The announcement supports a large-scale provincial plan, which aims to better support B.C’s aging population, and reduce added stress on emergency services and hospitals.

“This is the right conversation to be having,” Stewart says. “When it comes to dementia, age is the biggest risk factor, so we really need to be prepared to provide good quality, inclusive care.”

With the number of Canadians living with dementia expected to nearly double in the next 15 years, the province has committed to investing $240-million to increase direct care that seniors receive in residential care homes.