Bruce County: Long-term care homes should not be financially penalized by things beyond their control

·2 min read

BRUCE COUNTY – The long-term care homes committee of management has approved a letter to be sent to the minister of long-term care regarding occupancy. Copies will be forwarded to local MPPs.

Megan Garland, director of long-term care and senior services, provided an overview of the letter’s contents, saying that “during COVID, funding was protected; now (that protection) has been removed.”

She explained that the homes (Brucelea Haven and Gateway Haven) are funded through the province, and if 97 per cent occupancy is not achieved, “they do reduce our funding by three per cent.”

Because of the funding protection during COVID, there’s been no need to worry about occupancy, but in September 2022, the funding protection was removed.

Said Garland, “We’ve been seeing in the system… lots of changes related to health human resources, related to increased outbreaks, and related to the complex care of our residents.” The result is “we’re not able to fill our beds as quickly as we did in the past.”

She noted in her report to the committee that the health human resource crisis has affected “the organization’s ability to keep pace with maintaining the need to keep patients moving through the system. The staffing crisis slows down updates and reviews of key medical information that needs to be integrated prior to admission into long-term care homes.”

The frequent outbreaks also have an impact. She said normal practice calls for a pause in new admissions during an outbreak; homes receive credit for “lost bed days.” But when the outbreak is declared over, homes no longer receive credit and are left in a position to fill several beds, which takes time.

The report indicated homes have been experiencing more outbreaks of influenza, RSV and COVID-19 since the fall of 2022.

In addition, many residents being admitted to long-term care homes are “further along in their disease progression, which is resulting in a shorter length of stay in the home and increases the total number of admissions that occur in the homes.”

In reference to the letter, Garland said, “It’s an important advocacy item for this council… to ensure we’re not financially penalized by things beyond our control.”

A loss of three per cent funding represents approximately $500,000 for both homes, Garland noted in her report.

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times