Announced closure of nursing home beds creates anxiety

Dec 7, 2015

A small Leamington long-term care home with best-in-region scores for its care is shutting down its beds March 31, causing panic for family members like Evelyn Nevin, who is hurriedly touring other homes to find a place for her husband Fred.

“Everyone is in an uproar. If you go to the website the waiting lists (for the most popular homes) are in triple figures and we have to get out in three months,” Evelyn said Friday, three days after receiving notice that Chartwell Leamington (also known as Leamington Court) had lost funding for its 45 long-term care beds and that residents would start transitioning to other homes starting immediately.

Fred, 78, and Evelyn are from Windsor, but he was moved from Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital to Chartwell Leamington in July. Their first choice would have been the City of Windsor’s Huron Lodge, but the wait there is 734 days.

“They said Leamington Court was available, so I said: ‘We’ll take Leamington Court,'” said Evelyn, citing a Windsor Star report from July that described Leamington Court as the shining star among the area’s long-term care homes.

According to data from the Canadian Institute of Health Information, Leamington Court recorded the lowest percentage of patients restrained (zero), the highest percentage of patients with improved physical function (37.1 per cent) and the lowest percentage of patients who were potentially given anti-psychotic drugs inappropriately (15.5 per cent).

For her husband, Leamington Court turned out to be a “wonderful place,” according to Evelyn, who fears her husband will end up forced into a home they don’t want. “There are some places I wouldn’t put my dog in,” she said.

But a spokeswoman for the agency that made the decision to shut down Leamington Court, the Erie St. Clair LHIN, insists that no one will be forced into a home they don’t choose.

“We’re working really hard with people to get one of their choice homes,” said Shannon Sasseville. “We’re not going to leave anyone without a bed.”

While acknowledging the wait times are quite long for some homes — 765 days at Heron Terrace, 1,201 days at the Village of Aspen Lake — Sasseville said because Leamington Court is closing, its residents are in a crisis category that will help them get a bed faster.

“These people will not have to wait as long as they would have originally because they’ll get earlier access,” she said, adding that spots have already been found for at least six residents.

She said the Leamington Court beds have to close March 31 because they were always meant to be temporary. They were approved in 2011 as a way to alleviate the pressure put on the system by the failure to get a home built at the former Grace hospital site in Windsor. That home — relocated to St. Clair College — was finally opened last year, meaning the beds in Leamington were not as needed.

Leamington Court is actually part of an opulent retirement residence, which had 30 suites converted to long-term care rooms to help with the demand. Sharon Henderson, a spokeswoman for Chartwell, said the long-term care section of the building employed 65 people. She said Chartwell will work to offer displaced employees positions at some of its other retirement residences in the Windsor-Essex area.

She said the space will be reconverted to retirement home space.

There was never an issue about the quality provided, said Sasseville. “The folks at Leamington Court have provided outstanding care. It really boils down to these were interim beds.”

She said the LHIN diverted money that was supposed to go to community programs to pay for the extra beds at Leamington Court. Now that money can go back into programs that can help keep older people in their homes longer, she said, thus reducing the demand for long-term care. She said about 80 beds become available each month in the region’s long-term care homes.

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