The fate of the Castle Manor retirement home in Moncton was thrust into uncertainty after residents were told on Tuesday that they may have to move out soon because the home is not living up to the requirements of its licence.
That message left the 47 seniors who call the 100-year-old special care home as well as the approximately 30 staff shocked and angry.
Sarah Miller, 90, has lived at Castle Manor for the last seven years. She said she can't believe she may have to leave leave her home. Miller said she likes the facility and its proximity to the Dr. Georges L Dumont Regional Hospital, where she goes three times a week for dialysis.
"To us older people, it's a drastic shock and I think it's more than we can almost bear, some of us," Miller said. Pat Jewel has worked at the Moncton special care home for two years and she said the news of the possible closure hit many residents hard.
"It's hard because it's our family in there and you come in and they're all crying and it's sad. It really is sad for us too," Jewel said.
Billie-Jean Collette, another caregiver at Castle Manor, reflected on how close staff members are with the seniors and said that is what is making this so difficult.
"I bathe them. We give medications. We dry their tears. We take care of their sores. We shower them. We're family," Collette said. "Some of them don't even have family here — we are it."
The provincial government said the home's licence will not be renewed under the current management. Sonya Gilks, a spokeswoman with the Department of Social Development, could not reveal exactly what prompted the move but she stressed the residents are safe.
"If ever there was a resident that was in immediate danger then we would take immediate action but we're confident there are no security issues right now.… The residents are safe," Gilks said.
If new management can't be found to run Castle Manor by the end of the week, residents will have just 30 days to move out.
Special care homes are privately owned and operated in the province, but the Department of Social Development is responsible for handing out licences. Among the areas the department examines before determining if a facility can be licensed are resident care standards, staff training qualifications, operational procedures and the environment of the home.
Shannon Hagerman, a spokeswoman with the department, said the province works closely with operators to make sure any problems can be rectified before more serious actions are taken.
"However if we are unable to ensure compliance will be achieved, we cannot issue or renew a licence for special care homes," she said. "A decision not to issue a licence is never taken lightly by our department."
Although the department is looking for a resolution to the Castle Manor issue, in the meantime the province has identified 371 vacancies in special care homes in the Moncton region.