Seniors prefer hospitals over long-term care homes

Long-term care patients are refusing to leave hospitals, and one hospital CEO doesn't blame them.

Hospital says one patient turned down first and second choices

Seniors in need of long-term care are staying in hospital rather than long-term health care facilities. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

A Windsor, Ont. hospital CEO wants to pay long-term care patients to leave emergency rooms and hospitals they are currently calling home.

One long-term care patient has made Windsor Regional Hospital home for two years, and has refused his first and second choice of long-term care facility, according to the hospital's president and CEO.

David Musyj said the patient and family refused a bed at Heron Terrace last month, because the patient's wife heard nursing care was not good. This week, the family refused a spot at the Village of Aspen Lake, his first choice, and one highly rated by the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network. 

"Everything has been, 'no, no, no,no, no.' And they are allowed to continually change their mind without having any change in circumstance whatsoever," Musyj said of seniors in need of long-term care. "We have patients that are now not only refusing their second, third and fourth choice, but now their first choice. And it's very disheartening for everyone involved in the system."

Musyj is now suggesting paying patients to leave the hospital.

According to local health care professionals, there are approximately 150 people who could make the switch and there are currently 35 spaces available in area nursing homes. 

A report by the Erie St. Clair LHIN found several reasons for patients turning down long-term care facilities. Seniors interviewed for the report described long-term care as:

  • substandard care
  • expensive
  • restrictive
  • a place to go to die

Family members of seniors interviewed for the report had mixed opinions, describing facilities in general as:

  • 24/7 care
  • safe
  • resort style
  • not a good place
  • the last stop
  • expensive
  • institutional

Windsor-Essex has 18 long term-care homes. The report identifies those considered the best and the worst.

In Windsor, the preferred places are Huron Lodge and Aspen Lake. Both get high marks for location, privacy and staff.

There are three places that get the thumbs down, places where several families would never want to place someone.

In Windsor, they are Regency Park and Rose Garden Villa. People interviewed cited health unit complaints, outbreaks and high death rates.

Rose Garden Villa responded  to the report, saying it's important to look beyond the aesthetics of the 40-year-old building. The operator, Revera, said there have been no outbreaks since 2007 and no public health findings since 2010.

Regency Park has not responded to the report.

In Leamington, Franklin Gardens was described as "run down" with an "institutionalized atmosphere."

Franklin Gardens responded, saying "our nursing care was not questioned and we can readily fix the state of our building".

Musyj can understand why many don't want to leave the hospital.

"The way the rules are now, I would want my mom and dad to stay here, because it's peace of mind. I don't have to worry in the sense of if they do get sicker, they're already in a hospital, so it's perfect," Musyj told CBC News on Wednesday. "They don't have to go back through the system, go to a long-term care facility, come back through the emergency department [and] back to the floor."

However, Musyj worries about the lengthy delays that creates in emergency rooms. His hospital reported 11-hour wait times earlier this week because long-term care patients were taking up space and beds.

Emergency room overcrowding dominated discussion at a Windsor Regional Hospital board meeting Thursday night.

Doctor Gary Ing said health officials must develop a plan of action because things won't be getting any better as the population ages.

"It's a matter of time, if we don't take the corrective action, something tragic's going to happen. Certainly, I don't wish that on anybody, but the system can only survive for so long."

'Staying in hospital is basically free'

Gloria Perozzo is a nurse at Windsor Regional Hospital and part of a committee that decides who is ready to be discharged from hospital.

She hears a lot of reasons why people would rather stay put.

"Some of the places that they do have to go to, there is a cost. Of course, staying in hospital is basically free," Perozzo said. "They get comfortable with the food. Many people comment that they like the food here."

Perozzo said another factor is the cost of medication. It's free in hospital, but may cost some people in a long-term care facility.

"They get comfortable with the nurses. They become family to some of the people that have been here a little bit longer," Perozzo said. "And they know that they are getting the appropriate care."