There is an emergency shortage of long-term care beds in Niagara.
Today, one in five (21.4%) people living in Niagara are aged 65 or older. Welland is one of the three cities in Canada with the highest proportion of aging people in relation to its overall population. The ratio is one in seven for most other areas in Canada.
During the next 20 years as the baby boomers age, the proportion of citizens 65 and older is expected to reach one in four across Canada, and an even higher ratio in Niagara.
Demand for Long Term Care will far exceed supply in the foreseeable future. Already close to 32,000 people are waiting for a bed in Ontario. Without an increase in capacity, the waiting list could balloon to nearly 48,000 within the next five years.
There are eight million informal caregivers in Canada who are providing care for frail family members or friends. They often feel overwhelmed by the challenges of trying to juggle the demands of looking after their families, being a caregiver and remaining effective at their workplace. These helpers, who are providing care free of charge, are more likely to experience interruptions at work and to arrive late or even be absent from work. Many are less available than they would otherwise be to work overtime, travel for work or advance their careers. Some even quit their jobs to be a caregiver. Families need more options, including respite care to provide a brief period of relief or rest for the caregivers.
Some frail elderly have no family or their family lives far away.
These isolated seniors do not have anyone with whom to socialize, or help with transportation, household maintenance or day-to-day tasks. They often don’t eat well and may forget to take medication.
Research has found that social isolation and exclusion are associated with depression, reduced quality of life, poor general health and increased chance of premature death.
Foyer Richelieu has 83 percent of its resident population with dementia compared to the provincial average of 60 percent in long-term care homes.
A report entitled, “Rising Tide: The Impact of Dementia in Canada 2008 to 2038” predicted: “The life and economic consequences of dementia are expected to be further magnified over the next 30 years, when an estimated 1.1 million Canadians will have some form of dementia.”
If even half that estimate comes true, it will place a significant financial burden on our healthcare system.
The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care has identified Welland as in a state of emergency for a shortage of long-term care beds.
The wait time in Welland is four times the provincial average.
Typically there are more than 600 people in Welland and 2,400 in the Niagara region on the wait list for a long-term care bed.
Foyer Richelieu has space for 65 residents and the wait time is 877 days, one of the highest in the Niagara region.
There is more than one person waiting for every long-term care bed.
Many seniors don’t require the medical care that a long-term care home provides; however, they need physical assistance so they can carry out their activities of daily living and remain independent for as long as possible.
There is a shortage of affordable supportive housing options where seniors can receive assistance from a Personal Support Worker, such as bathing, taking medications, dressing, housekeeping or doing laundry.
Many seniors remain in a hospital while they wait for a long-term care bed to become available.
The cost to taxpayers is high at $1,000 per night for a hospital bed compared with $171 per night at Foyer Richelieu long-term care home.
The situation is contributing to Ontario’s deficit, which is increasing by $30 Million every day – 48% of that is due to healthcare costs.
Seniors who must wait for placement in long term care deteriorate more quickly, use more health care services and end up in emergency departments more frequently.
There are about 30,000 long-term care beds located in more than 300 homes in Ontario that must be redeveloped as part of the Ontario government’s Enhanced Long-Term Care Home Renewal Strategy.
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care set a deadline of 2025 for these homes built prior to 1998 to create less institutional, more residential homes that would provide a higher quality of life to the people who live there.
Foyer Richelieu was approved for redevelopment in 2011 and received a $250,000 one-time grant for planning.
After careful consideration, the Foyer Board and senior staff decided that redeveloping the existing number of beds was not economically viable.
Following further deliberation based on extensive research and professional advice, the Board decided this was an excellent opportunity to undertake an ambitious expansion plan to establish a campus of care that would be economically sustainable and better meet the needs of our community for future generations.
In 2016, the Board approved undertaking the $5 million Touching Lives Campaign to raise the community portion of funding required to achieve the vision of the new campus of care for seniors.
Hélène Tremblay Lavoie Foundation, Toronto