PRIORITY ONEREBUILD AND MODERNIZE OLDER LONG-TERM CARE HOMES
Too Many Long-term Care Home Projects Are Currently Unable To Move Forward
In an effort to be as efficient as possible for staff, older long-term care homes were built to design standards that featured a significant number of three- and four-bed rooms. These rooms also often had a shared washroom and separate tub rooms that would include two to three bathtubs. Nursing stations were located close to resident rooms and hallways were made smaller to ensure there was limited ground for staff to cover. This approach greatly improved the ability of support staff to care for multiple residents at a time. But care delivery has changed and the government has since recognized the need to also see long-term care homes change – to ensure they are more person centred and home-like.
The sector saw a great leap forward in 2014 with the announcement Ontario made to stimulate renewal with the Enhanced Long-Term Care Home Renewal Strategy (ELTCHRS). It launched a multi-year program that offered material improvements to the 2010 program to renew more than 30,000 beds by 2025 (an admittedly aggressive but necessary target, and one the Association fully supports).
Although celebrated at the time, the program has seen less than 20% of the sector demonstrate a willingness to participate due to its flat capital subsidy, meaning it does not increase to reflect inflationary growth related to construction.
Development projects take time to plan, seek public consultation and approve. With so many homes that need to move forward, it will be nearly impossible to have all 309 projects start construction in the first year of the program. It will take time to renew all of the older long-term care homes in Ontario. As such, the government’s program needs to be enhanced to cover the growth that took place from 2014 to now, and ensure it is flexible going forward so that it can cover the increasing building costs from today until the end of the program in 2025.
New design standards provide the appropriate privacy, security and comfort for the residents we are caring for today. These homes have the right sleeping, living, and dining environments – roughly twice the square footage per resident than older homes. But they cost considerably more to build and operate.
Homes For Today And Tomorrow’s Long-Term Care Residents
Homes being built today enable more comfortable living arrangements and allow for enhanced personal space to support frail seniors. They are designed to standards that include the elimination of three- and four-bed wards along with updated spa and dining rooms, improving privacy and dignity.
New homes offer wider hallways that help account for the wheelchairs and walkers required by residents to move safely about the home. Every 32-bed care unit includes a separate dining area that is smaller and more intimate yet spacious and common areas are offered for visiting with family and friends. New dining areas are also less crowded and do not require the extensive use of staff to porter residents.
Everything from operations to programming to therapeutic services and even areas for quiet reflection has been captured in the new design standards. Long-term care homes being built today are far more home like. That’s something that every family looks for when trying to find accommodation for their parents and grandparents.
What We Can Do About It
The Association believes there is a prudent, cost-efficient way to improve the capital renewal program associated with older long-term care homes that will support efforts to continually enhance the quality of life for seniors.
Requirement to improve the success of the capital renewal program:
- Adjust the construction funding subsidy for all homes (small, medium and large) to account for the inflationary growth, as demonstrated through the Ontario Construction Price Index, that took place between 2014-2017 and commit to adjusting it each year, until 2025, or until all projects have been approved.
- Eliminate municipal and regional development charges for all long-term care home renewal projects.
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