Montreal

English-only care home in Eastern Townships facing financial strain

The only English long-term care home in the Eastern Townships is hoping Quebec can help end its reliance on its foundation. For the past five years, the Wales Home has had to turn to its foundation to help cover a $1.7 million operating deficit.

The Wales Home in Richmond, Que., wants change in status that will give it access to operating subsidies

The Wales Home, the only English long-term care home in the Eastern Townships, has had to turn to its foundation for the past five years to help it cover a $1.7 million operating deficit. (CBC News)

One of the English long-term care homes in the Eastern Townships is hoping the province can help it address its financial woes.

For the past five years, the Wales Home in Richmond, Que., has had to rely on its foundation to help cover a $1.7 million operating deficit.

About 85 seniors call the Wales CHSLD home.

"Many are elderly English-speaking people. They didn't learn French when they were young," said Keith Baldwin, a resident and head of the Wales CHSLD users committee.

Seniors are often kept hospitalized while they wait for a permanent place in a CHSLD, occupying beds that could be used to relieve an overburdened health care system, said Brendalee Piironen, executive director of the Wales Home. (CBC News)

Currently, the not-for-profit facility is designated as a private, non-subsidized home but its executive director, Brendalee Piironen, hopes Quebec will consider changing its status in order to make it eligible for subsidies.

Increasing rent for the residents isn't an option since Wales residents already face larger monthly costs than residents of public or private subsidized homes.

The residents are also required to cover the cost of their medication and supplies.

"Two minutes down the road, there's a CHSLD where the residents pay a maximum of $1,811 month," Piironen said. "Our residents here pay 180 per cent more."

In order to maintain its level of services, the administration has had to borrow money from its foundation.

"We're a burden on the foundation," said Piironen, who points out that the money was intended to provide financial aid to residents as well as pay for capital improvements.

About 85 anglophone seniors live at the Wales Home. Another 32 are on a waiting list to get in, but any expansion plans have been put on hold due to the home's financial problems. (CBC News)

The financial concerns also forced the Wales Home to put on hold plans to expand in order to accommodate 32 additional anglophone seniors who are on a waiting list.

"We know there's a need, we want to be the facility to do it," said Piironen. "In order to do that, we need to have more staff."

The Argyll pavilion of the old Sherbrooke Hospital is sometimes used as a housing option while residents wait for a permanent home, but Piironen said it's not ideal.

"They do have some English services, but their staffing is not like here. Here, it's 100 per cent English," said Piironen.

The Wales Home hopes the province will allow it to change its status so it can access subsidies. They are meeting with Health Minister Gaétan Barrette next month.

The regional health agency that oversees the Eastern Townships — The Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux de l'Estrie – Centre Universitaire de Sherbrooke (CIUSSS-CHUS) — has a waiting list of its own.

Close to 180 seniors are waiting for CHSLD-type housing in the Eastern Townships.

Piironen points out that seniors are often kept hospitalized while waiting for a permanent place in a CHSLD, occupying beds that could be used to relieve an overburdened healthcare system.

The CBC reached out to the CIUSSS-CHUS for comment, but their representatives were unavailable until next week due to the holiday break.

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