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Long-term care budget considered at committee

Some cuts to the proposed County Long Term Care Budget were approved by committee and will go on to be considered by Grey County council.

The proposed budget, both operating and capital, was $81.5 million, with a net levy increase of almost $2.9 million or about 35 percent. That includes $600,000 toward the eventual debenture repayment for Rockwood Terrace redevel­opment.

It’s expected that the new Rockwood Terrace will be ready for occupancy by fall of 2026. Tendering is expected to be done in January 2024.

Resident co-payments will be increasing, it was noted.

Further changes were made to pare the LTC budget at the committee meeting in mid-November. For example, staff will be taking advantage of free or Ministry-supported training in order to meet the goal of staff development.

One item left open for further information was a $30,000 item for repairs to the gazebo at Grey Gables. The gazebo was part of the original Grey Owen Lodge, and a request was made for background as to the historical significance.

An item for signage at Grey Gables was removed from 2024, to be planned for 2025.

Staff clarified that the budget line labelled “raw foods” also includes special diets, such as liquid, blended or gluten free, in addition to purchasing local meats and produce.

The item for Lee Manor Security was removed ($23,500) as was a staff appreciation item, and reductions, were made to conferences, travel and meals and building maintenance.

It was noted that inflation is taking its toll, with the example given of a jump of more than $70,000 in cleaning chemicals in the three county homes.

OTHER LTC NEWS

The committee heard from Jennifer Cornell on staffing situations in Long Term Care.

She highlighted changes made by the province to increase the time of direct care, and spoke to the challenges of finding and keeping staff. She also highlighted strategies that are already in place.

At present there is three hours and 42 minutes per day of direct care staffing.

A further report was given on staff demographics – with leaves, retirements. The new Care Support Assistant role has been successful, Jennifer Moreau said. Other positive steps have been mentorship to students, PSW program funding from the province and attracting foreign workers.

A new software in the future should help address scheduling and staffing, as well as new approaches to scheduling.

Supporting staff to develop skills as well as providing mental health and wellness support were mentioned.

Legislated requirements for assessing if foreign-trained workers are needed were also discussed.

The committee heard that an unexpected repair was needed to replace some equipment that is part of the dry sprinkler system at Grey Gables. During a fire inspection, a faulty valve was found in the system.

M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Flesherton Advance