“How can I redevelop my long-term care home?"

Small long-term care home operators like John face a number of barriers preventing them from redeveloping their homes.

John would like to stay.

He runs the network of 10 long-term care homes his parents built in the 1960s throughout Simcoe County. He wants to redevelop the 30-bed home he has in one of the region’s smaller communities but it’s just not viable from a business sense.

There’s an obvious need to upgrade the home’s narrow hallways that make navigating a wheelchair challenging and then there’s the four-bed wards that offer little privacy.

“We’re beyond that style of home now,” says John. “Our staff do a great job there but that building is aging. It doesn’t connect with the way we want to be able to deliver care.”

He wants to build a larger home to improve the home environment for his residents but he can’t get the bed licenses and construction funding to do it there. That’s why he has to move those 30 beds to another town, where he can build a 128-bed home.

“I want to stay in the towns where we already have a home. People need to stay in their communities. But we need to get the size of the new home right,” he says.

And getting it right means moving it to where the construction costs make sense and where the size of the home allows for some operational efficiency.

But that doesn’t feel right, John explains.

“The new home would be just less than an hour’s drive from the existing one, so if your father is a resident there he will be far from his family and friends; from where he’s lived most of his life. But I can’t redevelop a 30-bed home in that small town. Even if I could handle the development costs and make the initial construction costs work, I couldn’t operate it with 30 beds.”

For many homes in small communities, where the upgrade costs are not viable, long-term care beds will move to urban centres. Government must design a small and rural long-term care home strategy that not only addresses the capital costs of redeveloping in small communities, but also the operational costs of running them once they are fully tenanted.