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Saturday, August 5, 2017

Ex-Wardens call for meeting with Southwest LHIN

Grey County | by Kevin Bernard  

Grey county's move to consolidate long term care beds gets more criticism.

13 Ex-Wardens in Grey county have signed a letter calling for a meeting with members of the Southwest LHIN so they can air their concerns about long term care in the area.

The group has met several times over the plan to sell off Grey Gables in Markdale and build a new long term care home in Durham that would take in residents from Markdale and Rockwood Terrace in Durham.

Former Warden Bill Murdoch says members of the group have decided they will no longer attend any Grey county functions.

That includes an ex-Wardens party that is held each year and the swearing in of a new Warden in December. 

Murdoch says there are several unanswered questions including what happens with the existing Rockwood Terrace.

He expects a lot of current County councillors won't be happy about the ex-Wardens decision.

The former Warden says if Grey county's plan is right then maybe Lee Manor in Owen Sound should be sold as well, and all the seniors could be in one home.

Murdoch says he doesn't think that is a good idea either, and adds the ex-Wardens feel the status quo should be kept with a home in Owen Sound, Markdale and Durham.

The letter put together by the group will go to Premier Kathleen Wynne, the Minister of Health and Long term care as well as the Southwest LHIN.

In response to the letter, current Warden Al Barfoot defends the decision of council. 

He says the solution that staff presented, and which Council approved, addresses that fact that seniors entering our facilities have increasingly complex health care needs.

Barfoot says they need to have the equipment, facilities and staff to deliver the care our residents need and deserve.

He adds the County will have a new 166-bed facility with the equipment needed to provide complex medical care, delivered in a way that provides consistent staffing in a comfortable home environment for residents.

Here is the full letter from Warden Al Barfoot in response to the Ex-Wardens letter: 

August 4, 2017

Dear Past Wardens:

Thank you for your letter and your commitment to the people of Grey County. Our current Council and staff are keenly aware of the high level of interest in long-term care services provided by the County. That interest is welcome and natural, given our aging population and the growing demand for these services.

Over the past several years, staff have undertaken significant research and analysis to find the best way to meet the changing needs of our aging population. The solution that staff presented, and which Council approved, addresses that fact that seniors entering our facilities have increasingly complex health care needs. We need to have the equipment, facilities and staff to deliver the care our residents need and deserve.

The reports and rationale for the decision have been shared with and presented to the community on a number of occasions. You have raised a number of questions in your letter, which I am pleased to address below:

  • A market analysis by real estate group CBRE has demonstrated that there is a strong market for Grey Gables to provide a range of seniors’ services along the continuum of care, such as assisted living and memory care. This will enhance the availability of services for seniors in southern Grey County by meeting a market that is currently unserved.

At this stage, it is too early to seek expressions of interest.

  • Decisions about where to locate a long-term care facility are not based on the geographic centre of the county. In terms of access, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the LHIN do not differentiate between a municipally operated long-term care home and a privately operated one. Both are provided the same level of provincial funding, are held to the same standards and are included equally in analysis of equitable access to long-term care. By Ministry standards, Grey County is considered well-served as compared to other parts of the province. That is why securing new 30-year licenses for all 166 beds would be a benefit to Grey County residents over the long run.
  • Initial costing to renovate Rockwood Terrace was completed six years ago and provided a baseline for future financial planning. Based on the amount of work it would take to bring it up to the new Ministry standards and the disruption to residents and staff during the process, renovating the current building is not a desirable option from a service or care perspective. The age and design of the building limit the options for selling or repurposing it.
  • The County has been transparent in its work and its analysis. We have shared all available information while respecting proprietary data and confidential intentions of private operators.
  • The LHIN is incorporating the plans of all long-term care operators into their consideration of how to provide equitable access to beds in the County.
  • In addition to the Sienna report and the LHIN’s work, Grey County staff also considered future population growth in the final recommendation.
  • While the 66-beds moving to Durham would not receive redevelopment funding from the Province, the resale of Grey Gables is anticipated to offset some of the costs of redevelopment and will also provide an opportunity for more services for seniors in southern Grey County. The County will have a new 166-bed facility with the equipment needed to provide complex medical care, delivered in a way that provides consistent staffing in a comfortable home environment for residents.
  • Grey County has created a dedicated webpage to make it easy for the public to find all long-term care redevelopment information in one place. It can be accessed from the Grey County homepage at www.Grey.ca.

As former Wardens, you all understand that elected officials must balance many factors to meet the needs of our community. We have to be responsible both to our current constituents and to the future best interests of the community. None of us take this responsibility lightly. Sometimes, we have to make difficult decisions. I know my colleagues on County Council share your dedication to meeting the needs of Grey County as we work towards building a system of care that our own families may someday use. We all have the same goal.

We are mindful of the timelines for redevelopment and it is our responsibility to ensure that we have a clear plan in place to comply with the Ministry standards taking effect in 2025. I have shared your letter with the rest of Council.

Sincerely,

 

Alan Barfoot
Grey County Warden
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