With Parkview Place set to close, concerns swirl over space in Winnipeg personal care homes
'It's almost a few hundred beds that are now going to be gone in Manitoba,' NDP health critic says
Concerns are being raised about space across Winnipeg personal care homes as Parkview Place, a 261-bed facility, prepares to shut its doors permanently.
The closure, announced Tuesday and planned to take place within the next year, follows a deadly COVID-19 outbreak, an ongoing cockroach problem and a provincial licence review of the downtown Winnipeg care home.
"Every time we lose capacity in our seniors-care system, it's a loss," said Laura Tamblyn Watts, the CEO of CanAge, a national organization that advocates for seniors.
"It's really a double-edged sword. You don't want people to lose spaces and lose their homes, but we want to make sure that those homes are good and safe. And right now, Parkview is pretty clearly not that."
The 12-storey facility will be closed by Aug. 10, 2022, or once the remaining 160 residents have transitioned to new homes, according to Revera, the private company that runs Parkview.
On Wednesday, NDP health critic Uzoma Asagwara said the closure is another failure of the province's Progressive Conservative government when it comes to long-term care.
"It's almost a few hundred beds that are now going to be gone in Manitoba," Asagwara said. "All the while this government has refused to invest the resources needed to improve long-term care in Manitoba."
Revera says the decision to close the home was made independent of the COVID-19 outbreak that led to the deaths of 29 Parkside residents between September 2020 and mid-January, but said the deadly outbreak reinforced the decision.
Aging infrastructure, including narrow hallways, "tight and outdated recreation" and limited outdoor space for residents, means "Parkview Place cannot simply be renovated to meet today's long-term care standards," the company said in a statement issued Tuesday.
The care home's licence was placed under review by Manitoba Health late last year. It remains suspended from accepting new residents due to ongoing concerns with the building, including a cockroach problem dating back to 2017.
302 waiting for beds in Winnipeg
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said the personal care home system has capacity for the current residents at Parkview. The health authority will work with residents and their families to find an appropriate spot for them, the spokesperson said.
There are currently 302 people waiting for a placement at a personal care home in Winnipeg, including eight people considered to be in urgent need, the spokesperson added.
"It's not so clear-cut as to say that there's a bed for everybody right now, because there just isn't," Tamblyn Watts said, adding waiting comes with consequences.
"What we know is that while people wait, they're going to get sicker and this may mean that some people don't get the care that they need."
The Parkview closure further highlights the need for governments to invest in the long-term care sector, she said.
"As the age wave is moving forward, we're going to have less and less care unless the governments, both provincial and federal, start moving quickly and taking the matter seriously."
In a statement to CBC News, a spokesperson for Manitoba Health Minister Heather Stefanson said the Winnipeg health authority "has assured the minister it does not anticipate spacing issues resulting from the closure" and that it will work with residents and families "to ensure a caring and respectful transition."
The spokesperson said the government is working to improve care and has committed $653 million for personal care homes in the 2021 budget.
The Manitoba government has added 257 personal care home beds to the system since 2016, with another 248 in facilities under construction, according to the statement.
A provincial task force is in the process of implementing changes to Manitoba's personal care home sector, following an independent consultant's report into a deadly COVID-19 outbreak at Revera-owned Maples personal care home.