Sointula may be a tiny village on a small island (Malcolm Island, BC - population 886) but it's anticipating its own senior surge and wants to be prepared. Over a century ago, the community was created as a utopia by immigrants from Finland. Sointula, meaning "place of harmony", was to be a community of equality, participation and sharing. Although the original utopian concept was not fully realized, the island continues to draw people who are attracted to these principles. The senior population is a mix of long-time residents who are aging in place, native-born Islanders who are returning home to retire, and newly-arrived retirees attracted by the bucolic lifestyle and friendly spirit. Locals have noticed that, although the population size is staying fairly constant, the average age is increasing. Families with children are leaving the island and being replaced by retirees.
Seniors housing is provided by Harmony Glen, an independent-living facility with eight one-bedroom suites. With support from family and hired caregivers, residents are able to live at Harmony Glen for years, if not decades. But if their needs become too great, they must relocate to a long-term care facility on Vancouver Island. Harmony Glen is owned and operated by Malcolm Island Senior Citizens Housing Society and BC Housing. To help seniors age in place, the community will need to expand facilities for independent seniors, increase home care for people choosing to stay at home, and extend the level of care available locally. The Lions Club intends to answer the call - again. It was the Lions Club thirty years ago that set up Harmony Glen and they are prepared to jump in once more.