Nursing home strained as 73 seniors share 1 tub

Families of seniors in a small eastern New Brunswick community are calling for replacement of the Villa Maria where 73 residents share one bathtub.

Nursing home replacement review is complete but no date set for release

This one bath is shared by 73 seniors at the Villa Maria nursing home in St.-Louis-de-Kent. ((CBC))

Families of seniors in a small eastern New Brunswick community are calling for replacement of the Villa Maria nursing home where 73 residents share one bathtub.

The former Liberal government had announced the Saint-Louis-de-Kent nursing home would be replaced. But when the Progressive Conservative government came to power in 2010, the Villa Maria and several other nursing home projects in the province were put on hold pending an internal government review.

Lucienne and Vital Richard, in the meantime, are living in a small room at the Villa Maria and sharing a bathroom with three other people.

"We'd rather have a bathroom for sure, because we're two in this room. And the other room they're three. We have to have our turn. So it's not a very good thing really," Lucienne Richard said.

Nicole Richard, the couple’s daughter, said her father takes his bath once a week at 6 a.m.

"I don't think it's fair for them. They've been working all their lives. They've been giving a lot to society. And they deserve a lot better than that," she said.

Richard said the nursing home is so crowded that items are being stored in the hallways, making it difficult for staff and residents to move around.

"The personnel have carts that ... carry medicine, all of that, the laundry and all of that and additional wheelchairs of the residents are in the corridor. What if there was a fire?" she said.

New plan finished

Liberal MLA Bertrand LeBlanc said the provincial government needs to replace the Villa Maria. ((CBC))

The former Liberal government had pledged a five-year, $400-million infrastructure plan that would have built two new nursing homes, replaced 11 nursing homes and renovated 31 buildings.

That 2009 plan would have created 700 new nursing home spots.

Mark Barbour, a spokesperson for the Department of Social Development, said the provincial government reviewed the nursing home plan in the best interest of taxpayers.

He said that review is complete and once it's finalized, an announcement on individual homes will be made.

But he said at this point, the department doesn't have a timeline for releasing the document.

Social Development Minister Sue Stultz said last fall the report had been completed and would be announced before the legislature returned in November. But the social development minister missed that deadline.

The Liberals have been calling for Stultz to release the new list for nursing home infrastructure upgrades.

There are other nursing homes, such as one in Mill Cove, that were expecting new facilities and are eagerly awaiting the provincial government’s new nursing home plan.

Rogersville-Kouchibouguac Liberal MLA Bertrand LeBlanc said the situation at Villa Maria in Saint-Louis-de-Kent is unacceptable for both residents and staff.

"I mean, you've got a humanitarian case here. The minister needs to come over here and see for herself that sometimes you need to spend the money for the people who need it the most," LeBlanc said.