Serving Residential and Community Care Homes for the Elderly in Manitoba

NEWS

COVID-19 Information and Resources

September 24, 2020 Letter to the Free Press editor

Senior Care – left in the dark again

A few days ago, a meeting of the First ministers occurred to discuss health transfers to the Provinces.  The Manitoba Association of Residential and Community Care Homes for the Elderly (MARCHE) and the Long Term and Continuing Care Association of Manitoba (LTCAM) wrote a letter to the Premier (www.roadtocare.ca) in advance of the meeting.  We hoped to reignite the light that shone so brightly on seniors care, just a few months ago.  We were dismayed to read in the Free Press; 19/09/20 “Pallister Joins Premiers to push for Health Care cash”. In the article, the Premier would only say he would ‘continue to support front line services’.

This has been an extraordinarily difficult and painful time for everyone connected to long-term care including residents, their families, care team members, and those who operate long-term care homes.  COVID-19 has exposed long-standing, systemic challenges for long-term care homes-Time for change is now!

In addition to staffing, we also need an investment into rebuilding our infrastructure.  Our homes make it difficult to support “a life well lived”, especially in terms of treating individuals with dementia, which puts both residents and staff at risk.  We estimate that 60% of the personal care homes in this province and across the country, have shared accommodations and shared washrooms.  As Covid-19 has taught us, this environment can be deadly when infection prevention and control is so very difficult to preserve.

A 2015 report completed on Existing conditions PCH infrastructure for the 39 PCHs in Winnipeg showed that almost 50% were categorized as in ‘poor condition, issues identified should be addressed ASAP as funding allows’. In the majority of cases, little change has occurred.  

Let’s Shine the Light on Seniors’ Care in Manitoba.  Seniors cannot wait. In fact, our seniors, our loved ones are dying, right now, today.

Jan Legeros, Executive Director, Long Term & Continuing Care Association of Manitoba

 

The following is an article written by Julie Turenne-Maynard, Executive Director of MARCHE that was sent to several community newspapers and published.  

COVID-19 has taught us seniors need to be a priority

Knowing that Manitoba accounts for just one of the approximately 6,000 COVID-19 deaths in personal care homes in Canada, you’d be forgiven for thinking we place a higher priority on senior care than do people in other provinces. The owners of 29 of Manitoba’s non-profit personal care homes would like to correct that mistaken impression.

These owners have the first-hand experience to know the people who live in long-term care are not high on the priority list of most Manitobans nor the provincial government.

If these seniors were a priority, would provincial funding for basic operations have been frozen for 10 years?

The average resident in a personal care home today is not the same as the average resident 20 or 30 years ago. Years ago, many residents were relatively healthy, independent, and ambulatory. Today, the majority of residents in a Manitoba personal care home are over 85 years old and have acute and complex healthcare challenges, including dementia. While it costs more to care for these high-needs residents, most personal care homes in Manitoba—and all our homes in Winnipeg—have received no increase in their operating budget for more than 10 years. This at a time when dietary expenses at homes have increased by 36 percent and nursing supplies and incontinent supplies have increased 50 percent.

Clearly, something’s got to give. So managers of these homes are forced to take money away from things like social and recreational programs that help provide the quality of life residents deserve, and from things like maintenance, housekeeping and ancillary services in order to pay the grocery bill.

If seniors in care were a priority, wouldn’t the government allow more time for nurses and aides to meet the increasingly complex needs of personal care home residents?

The higher needs of today’s residents mean they need more help with things like getting dressed, bathing, brushing their teeth, using the bathroom and eating. Many require two- person assistance and greater supervision. Experts say at least 4.1 hours of care are required per resident per day, but the province provides funding for only 3.6 hours—a number that has not changed since 2009. This means assistance is not always available when residents need it. As well, bureaucratic regulations mean nurses are having to spend more and more time filling out paperwork, leaving less time for them at the bedside to provide and oversee resident care.

If seniors’ living conditions were a priority, would government have frozen funds for capital repairs and improvements for 25 years?

It’s not just Ontario and Quebec that have antiquated, multi-bed facilities that make infection control difficult. There are also personal care homes in Manitoba that are over 40 years old and have multiple beds per room. In the non-profit sector, our homes need an average $6 million in upgrades per home. Owners need to repair leaking roofs, replace faulty boilers and make long overdue renovations.  Yet provincial money for repairs was basically frozen for a quarter century, even though inflation over those years was 57 percent.  

As a result, the only repairs made at most personal care homes have been those required by new fire and building codes—and new money finally announced by government last month can be used only for further fire safety upgrades. Those upgrades are important but they won’t fix crumbling infrastructure.

To make matters worse, it typically takes 10 to 12 years for the province to approve a capital expense. So personal care home managers often give up in frustration and try instead to raise the needed funds from community members.  We have often been successful, but of course community groups and members eventually get tapped out and so the next upgrade that would improve resident care and quality of life simply doesn’t happen.

With more than 100 years of experience caring for seniors in our communities, the owners of community-based, non-profit homes want to work as partners with government to jointly find solutions to the long-term problems of under-funding, inadequate staffing, and unsuitable polices and regulations.

Most of all, we want the provincial government to significantly increase funding to our personal care homes to allow us to provide safe, appropriate care to our residents. At minimum, we must receive annual increases equal to the cost of inflation for both operating and capital expenses.

We hope Manitobans who care about their elderly relatives and friends will join us in telling government that chronic under-funding of personal care homes is not compatible with excellent care. And that the COVID-19 nightmare in other provinces has reinforced that it’s high time seniors moved up a few pegs on everyone’s priority list.

To view several articles written in newspapers, to listen to media interviews and read MARCHE’s press release regarding the funding crisis Manitoba Personal Care Homes are in, please visit the ADVOCACY section of this website.Manitoba Government Releases Background Information From Health System Sustainability and

The Manitoba government is releasing significant portions of the KPMG Health System Sustainability and Innovation Review (HSIR) including sections containing recommendations implemented and underway as part of the initial stages of the province’s health system transformation, Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced today.  To view the full press release, click HERE.