Originally published in the 2024 Summer Edition of the Comox Valley Collective.

The Comox Valley Healthcare Foundation (CVHF), a registered charity that has quietly been elevating local healthcare for over three decades, is focusing on advancing research and innovation into seniors’ health and wellness.

Statistics Canada estimates there will be 2.7 million people aged 85 or over living in Canada in 2050. Seniors’ health will continue to be an important emphasis for healthcare-related organizations.

“Statistically we know that our population in the Comox Valley is older than the BC average by seven years—and the number of seniors will continue to increase exponentially over the coming decades,” explains Avry Janes, CVHF’s co-executive director. “One of the key areas we are supporting is care for seniors living with dementia. We know this is poignant for our local population and the Alzheimer Society of Canada validates this priority nationwide, estimating one million people will be living with dementia in five years time. By funding technology and research projects, the Foundation is actively engaged in enhancing seniors’ care,” Janes says.

CVHF works within the Valley to raise funds to support acute care at the hospital, healthcare in the community, and three non-profit long-term care homes (Cumberland Lodge, Glacier View Lodge, and Providence Living at The Views). The Foundation has always done direct fundraising, but seeking grant opportunities, harnessing funds from other organizations, and building partnerships is a growing aspect of its work. When it comes to achieving significant improvements in care, this kind of collaboration is increasingly essential.

A perfect example is a recent Island Health research project that invited local seniors, their loved ones, caregivers, healthcare providers, and topic experts to share their views about aging and dementia. They gave their insights into all aspects of aging and, more specifically, onto what the Comox Valley needs to enhance seniors’ quality of care.

This patient-oriented research initiative helped identify four research priorities: 1) staying at home longer; 2) caregiver supports and respite; 3) dementia-friendly communities; and 4) navigating supports. Grants and fellowships will soon be available for research teams who will explore how best to serve our growing senior population and investigate how to expand care. CVHF sourced funding for this project through the Robert and Florence Filberg Fund for Medical Research, which the Comox Valley Community Foundation administers on behalf of the Vancouver Foundation.

Another recent win attributed largely to collaboration and innovation can be seen at Glacier View Lodge, where seniors living with dementia now have access to an innovative game console called a Tovertafel that helps improve their physical, cognitive, social, and sensory well-being and allows them to have fun and connect with others.

CVHF facilitated the purchase of the Tovertafel, which uses a special projector to display interactive games onto a table or floor surface, with a grant from the federal government’s New Horizons for Seniors Program. Studies have proven the benefits of the device: it assists seniors with cognitive decline, breaks through apathy, increases physical activity, reduces negative emotions and agitation, and increases social activity among residents, staff, and visitors. The equipment supports connection with friends and family, intergenerational understanding, and community involvement—all of which help promote inclusion and mental health for our loved ones in care homes. Plans are in place to ensure Cumberland Lodge and the Views implement similar technology in the very near future.

The CVHF invites the community to learn more about these stories and the incredible impact donors are having on healthcare in the Comox Valley. Be part of the conversation by following their social media channels (@cvhealthcarefdn) and subscribing to their e-newsletter.