A New Harbour View Haven on the Horizon

(Illustration: Erin Philp)

All private rooms. All private bathrooms. A harbour view. This is what Harbour View Haven (HVH) should look like by 2027.

Aptly named, the long-term care home on Blockhouse Hill currently has one out of three criteria covered for its long-term care residents.

But out of 144 beds, only 40 are in private rooms, and many residents must share a bathroom with three neighbours.

This was typical for long-term care facilities built 40+ years ago when residents had fewer complex needs. HVH first opened its doors to residents in 1971, and the needs of the community have significantly changed since then.

In May 2022, the province of Nova Scotia announced it would commit up to $1.8 billion to build or renovate 24 long-term care facilities across the province – including Harbour View Haven – and build 500 rooms in the Halifax Regional Municipality.

We sat down with HVH CEO Tim McAuley to chat about plans to rebuild a new home to meet the changing needs of the community.

Where is HVH in the rebuild process?

TM: After the government announced the projects, we had to decide whether to renovate or rebuild. We hired Grey Cardinal Project Management to help us work through the process and quickly determined that we would need to rebuild with the age of the building and the limitations of the property.

We are only on three acres of land, and the goal is to have all private rooms, so our existing space makes it virtually impossible to renovate. So, we made the pitch to the government to rebuild and then went about hiring a design team.

We are currently working with that team to determine what the new HVH will look like. To accommodate 144 private rooms, we are looking for a larger lot, so we applied to rezone the 19-acre lot for sale on Upper Hall Street above Stelia Aerospace from Industrial to Institutional. Town Council approved our request, so now we must determine if the land is appropriate for us to build on before we can negotiate a sale.

We are working on an expedited build with a new facility ideally ready for 2027. The sooner we can get a shovel in the ground, the faster that will happen. Construction like this takes a while to get all the red tape taken care of before you can construct. Grand View Manor in Berwick has been in this process for probably a year longer than us. And they are just getting around now to breaking ground.

Why is this rebuild important?

TM: It gives residents the space they really should have to live, to visit with their family members and friends, and to enjoy a home-like environment. Right now, most of the resident rooms are semi-private. With the new build, we plan to create nine 16-bed neighbourhoods. When you’ve got a 16-bed unit compared to a 64-bed unit, you will reduce the noise, traffic, visitors, and confusion to a place where folks can hopefully have a more home-like feel.

There is also the key issue of infection control. When you’re talking about all those shared spaces, it takes one person with a virus to cause an outbreak. We can mitigate that much better with 16-bed units and private bathrooms — you can limit the spread.

On top of that, right now, there are access limitations to entertainment, and staff must walk through resident spaces while delivering meals. We can design a new space around providing the best possible resident experience.

Folks need to have a dignified space to live and to be able to choose what they want to eat, the entertainment they want to attend and to enjoy staying within the heritage of this community.

The space on Upper Hall Street also has a harbour view. We have residents from a fishing background, and having a harbour view is extremely important to them. They have lots of stories to tell staff and tell each other.

How is this all paid for?

TM: Healthcare costs are paid for by taxpayers, and then there is a resident per diem determined by the government. So, residents aren’t paying for their care, they are paying for accommodation and food like you normally would if you were renting an apartment. 

An annual per diem increase is not guaranteed but may be implemented to address increasing accommodation and capital costs in the facility. We will see what kind of needs we have as we go through the process. Right now, it’s too early to tell if we will need to explore other funding sources. The government approves the building costs we ultimately seek out in a mortgage.

What’s next?

TM: We are offering an information session to the family council and interested family members this month and a public information session shortly after. So far, the response from the community has been terrific. We have been listening to our residents. I value their opinion most because this is where they live, and communication with our staff is important since it will translate into a better workspace for them.


One response to “A New Harbour View Haven on the Horizon”

  1. Tricia Fish

    What will happen to the current three acre site?

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