11/06/2012 14:14 EST | Updated 01/06/2013 05:12 EST

Fraser Health to expand residential care, mental health beds

The Fraser Health Authority is taking a step towards expanding its capacity of residential care and mental health beds.

The authority wants an additional 427 beds in Surrey, the Tri-Cities and White Rock, citing a rapidly growing population, especially among seniors.

"As our population continues to grow and age, Fraser Health is regularly seeking ways to expand services and continue to provide high-quality care to our communities," residential care executive director Heather Cook said in a written release.

"In an effort to build capacity and meet the needs of our communities now and into the future, we are turning to organizations with experience to provide ... purpose-built accommodations for those who require residential and mental health complex care services."

The request also includes 24 mental health and substance use beds for adults aged 19 and over with a serious and persistent mental illness.

"Individuals with mental health and substance use issues often have complex care needs and cannot safely live on their own or with their families," mental health and substance abuse executive director Andy Libbiter said.

"An area identified as needing additional mental health and substance use capacity is the Tri-Cities. A need for an additional 24 beds has been recognized and has been incorporated into the Request For Pre-Qualification process."

Fraser Health is asking applicants to come forward with experience in and resources to operate residential care and mental health facilities in the region.