Serving Residential and Community Care Homes for Everyone in Manitoba

Pledge for care home beds falters

June 8, 2022 Manitoba Government Invests More than $800,000 to Add 30 New Training Seats in Red River College Polytechnic’s Nursing Program – – – Strengthening Our Health-Care System a Key Priority:

The Manitoba government is investing over $830,000 to add 30 new nurse training seats to help sustainably increase the number of nurses working in the province in the years to come, Health Minister Audrey Gordon and Advanced Education, Skills and Immigration Minister Jon Reyes announced today. “Our government is strengthening health care,” said Gordon. “Investing in nurses who are an integral part of our health-care team is building our province’s health human resource capacity. We have been working closely with post-secondary institutions to sustainably increase the capacity of existing nursing programs throughout the province.” “Our government’s multi-faceted action plan is responding effectively to labour market shortages in the health-care system that were amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Reyes. “This investment brings us even closer to fulfilling our July 2021 commitment to add 400 seats in nursing programs at post-secondary institutions across the province.” Funding will add 30 new seats to the nursing program at Red River College Polytechnic (RRC Polytechnic). It will help renovate necessary learning spaces, add laboratory equipment and support new staffing, supplies and other operational needs, the ministers noted. “The work we do at RRC Polytechnic anticipates and aligns with the nursing and health-care needs of Manitoba and this announcement recognizes the importance of investing in post-secondary institutions that provide highly trained graduates,” said Fred Meier, president and CEO, RRC Polytechnic. “We are ready to grow and expand our programs as needed to prepare students to contribute on day one and in turn strengthen our province. We expect that all 30 seats will be filled by the end of the 2022-23 academic year.” With this latest expansion, the Manitoba government has committed more than $30 million to establish 289 nursing seats that will support recruitment for the health-care system. The ministers noted work remains underway on the next phase of the plan to further expand training to meet the 400 space commitment made in 2021. For more information about RRC Polytech’s bachelor of nursing program, visit https://catalogue.rrc.ca/Programs/WPG/Fulltime/NURBF-DG.

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For more information: Public information, contact Manitoba Government Inquiry: 1-866-626-4862 or 204-945-3744. Media requests for general information, contact Communications and Engagement: newsroom@gov.mb.ca. Media requests for ministerial comment, contact Communications and Stakeholder Relations: 204-451-7109.

Manitoba care homes say they’re chronically underfunded, understaffed, need government to help

‘We’ve been asked to do significantly more with the same resources’ during pandemic, says Actionmarguerite CEO

Jill Coubrough · CBC News · Posted: Jul 15, 2020 5:00 AM CT | Last Updated: July 15, 2020

Leesa Streifler with her 90-year-old mother, Sheila, in Winnipeg. Leesa said her mother, who lives in a long-term care facility, is showing signs of decline because of limited visits with family. (Submitted by Leesa Streifler)

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Leesa Streifler says her 90-year-old mother, who lives in a Winnipeg long-term care home, is declining because of a lack of family contact.

Despite the province loosening restrictions, she said the facility cannot accommodate more than two 15 to 30 minute visits per week because of a staffing shortage.

“She’s fearful, she’s unhappy, she’s not eating as well,” Streifler said. “Every time I talk to her, she tells me she’s terrible. My heart is just broken.”

Her mother, Sheila, lives in a home run by one of the more than two dozen private, non-profit personal care home operators in the province now calling on the Manitoba government to increase operational funding and staffing to improve seniors’ care.

Julie Turenne-Maynard, executive director of MARCHE — The Manitoba Association of Residential and Community Care Homes for the Elderly — says the COVID-19 pandemic is shining a spotlight on long-term care across the country and highlighting the consequences of a 10-year funding freeze in Manitoba.

Turenne-Maynard says while Manitoba’s personal care homes have been largely fortunate in the fight against COVID-19, they have been chronically underfunded, despite increasing costs and needs from residents.

“There are personal care homes in Manitoba that are over 40 years old, and they have multiple beds per room,” said Turenne-Maynard. “Those are things … that need to be addressed.”

Over the last decade, “many personal care homes … have not seen any funding increase for basic operations,” MARCHE said in a press release outlining its concerns on Monday.

Over the same period, dietary expenses at homes operated by MARCHE’s members have increased by 36 per cent and the cost of incontinence supplies increased by 50 per cent, the association said.

Aging infrastructure is another issue. The association estimates care homes in Manitoba’s non-profit sector each need an average of $6 million in upgrades.

Turenne-Maynard said at a minimum, personal care homes need to see an annual funding increase in line with the cost of inflation.

Staffing, budgets stretched during pandemic

The association is also urging the province to fund higher staffing levels, saying they have remained the same since 2009. 

Laurie Cerqueti, CEO of the the Saul and Claribel Simkin Centre in Winnipeg, said she sympathizes with families who would like to visit their loved ones more often.

However, the process is labour-intensive for staff due to added public health measures during the pandemic, she said.

Staff must prebook visits with families, screen guests, move seniors to and from visitation areas, and supervise the visit.

Cerqueti said they are also dealing with a restricted staffing pool, because people can only work at one facility during the pandemic, and some workers are taking summer vacations.

She said she would like to see additional funding from the Manitoba government to help with the added labour of co-ordinating visits.

“We’ve been asked to do significantly more with the same resources,” said Charles Gagné, CEO of Actionmarguerite, a MARCHE member which operates three personal cares homes in Winnipeg.

“We do know that financially this will be a year where [the] expectation for us to be able to balance our budget will be quasi-impossible.”

Steps taken to keep homes safe: minister

In an email statement, Health Minister Cameron Friesen pointed to $280-million in funding the province announced in June for safety upgrades in personal care homes, to ensure the facilities are in line with fire code requirements. 

“We find it disappointing that MARCHE would downplay the significance of such an important investment,” he said.

“When COVID-19 arrived in Manitoba, we instituted steps to keep our personal care homes safe, including strict visitor restrictions, enhanced screening for staff and the implementation of the one-site staffing model designed to stop the spread of the virus to residents,” the statement went on to say.

“Due to careful planning and adherence to public health guidelines, Manitoba currently has some of the lowest transmission rates in the country.”

Friesen did not address claims of a funding freeze.

He said he is calling on all long-term care providers and their associations to work with regional health authorities and families “to do everything possible to increase visits at this time.”

Turenne-Maynard said the $280-million investment, while important, does not address operational funding shortfalls and the need for more staff.

Streifler said something needs to change before her mother declines further.

She has booked a visit with her on Wednesday, but they will sit two metres apart, outdoors, for just 30 minutes.

“The government needs to act immediately so that we don’t lose this precious time,” she said.

“To think that these are the last years of her life and that she’s spending them this way is crushing.”

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.