Fairhaven long-term-care home requests zero budget increase from Peterborough County

Staff from Fairhaven long-term-care home presented Peterborough County council with good news Wednesday on three fronts: there is a zero-budget increase request for 2023, the facility has already reached four hours of care per resident per day (something that the province mandated happen by 2024) and it hired its “very own” nurse practitioner last week.

The majority of Fairhaven’s funding (more than 70 per cent) comes from the Ministry of Long-Term Care, but funding is also provided by the county, which owns one third of the facility, and the city, which owns two thirds.

The total request for the 2023 county portion for operating expenses is $775,000 and for capital expenses $126,80l, said Nancy Rooney, executive director of the 256-bed facility on Dutton Road in the north end of Peterborough.

There have been major announcements from the province — the Fixing Long-Term Care Homes Act of 2021 — regarding staff funding, and this, as well as COVID-19 extra funding, has allowed Fairhaven to enhance its staffing to reach the four hours per resident per day ratio, she said.

But not all is well.

“The long-term sector staffing shortages have been astronomical. This intensifies the human resource crisis we’ve seen for decades,” Rooney said.

“We are admitting more complex residents to assist in the growing admissions and bed availability pressures hospitals are facing.”

The increase in the need for more direct care hours emphasizes staffing shortages and burnout, employees leaving the sector, difficulty in filling shifts and, as a result, costly agency usage is needed, she said.

Provincial funding for some areas of long-term care, such as per diem levels of care, has been frozen or remains unchanged in the last few years, even though residents “are coming to us sicker and with more complex than ever before,” county council heard.

There is no capital funding increase request to the county from Fairhaven.

“But ... our building is now 20 years old, and we are going to actually start to work on a new 10-year plan that will hopefully help with some of our aging buildings,” Carolyn Jones, finance manager for Fairhaven, told council.

Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner