George Le Masurier photo

Comox Valley seniors group says new beds fall short

Jan 22, 2019 | Health Care, News

By George Le Masurier

Decafnation reported last week that the announcement of new long-term care beds did not please everyone in the Comox Valley. We quoted health care workers still employed by Island Health and Seniors Voices advocated Delores Broten.

This week, Seniors Voices Comox Valley has issued an advisory for caregivers in response to the announcement by Health Minister Adrian Dix.

Dix announced the province awarded Golden Life Management Corporation a contract for 120 new residential care beds and two new hospice beds (for a total of six with the four existing beds). He also gave Providence Residential Care Community Society permanent funding for the 21 temporary beds it currently operates at the former St. Joe’s General Hospital under the name Mountain Views, and 10 new beds, currently funded at another facility, and four respite beds.

Here is Seniors Voices Comox Valley analysis of the announcement.

“Our data (and personal experience) indicates that the Comox Valley needed about 150 beds in 2017 to meet the need at that time. We estimate that about 25 to 30 new beds are needed every year. This means that by the time the “120 new beds”, the Golden Life beds, come on line at the end of 2020, the Valley will require at a minimum another 100 beds. The beds awarded to Providence already exist and are already full.

“The new Comox Valley hospital is bursting at the seams, constantly at over 100 percent capacity, a situation leading to stress and problems for staff and patients. On any given day over one third of the admitted patients in the hospital are deemed to require “Alternative Level of Care,” not an expensive hospital bed. This is not new but has worsened this winter. Many of these people are waiting for residential care. The new beds will not help the hospital over-crowding due to the ever-increasing need.

“The decision to award this contract to a private company is inexplicable to us. The contract could easily have been awarded to Glacierview Lodge, the experienced, qualified and community-supported not-for-profit already operating in the Valley. Minister Dix appeared to be unaware of the raison d’etre of private enterprise, which is to generate a profit to satisfy the interests of shareholders/investors, saying that Golden Life is a “good company.”

“Good company or not, private corporate interests could result in the sale to a “maybe not so good company” (as in the sale of Retirement Concepts to Anbang). As well, wages are lower than in nonprofit facilities, which will lead to on-going staffing issues. We do not agree that private profit should be realized from the public funds the government will provide Golden Life for the care of our seniors.

“For caregivers, the greatest relief in this announcement will come from the addition of four more respite beds at Mountain View (Providence). Too many caregivers lose control of their lives to look after their loved ones. These respite beds will provide caregivers with a week or two of welcome and needed time to look after themselves.

“If you share our concern about the seniors’ care crisis in the Comox Valley, please contact your MLA to request work begin immediately on developing an expanded care plan. After all, based on history, it will take years.”

You can get more information about Senior Voices by contacting Delores Broten at delores@watershedsentinel.ca

 

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