Ottawa

Nursing home's closure sparks fears over where residents will land next

Some children of residents at Madonna Care Community, a private nursing home in Orléans, say they're worried about where their parents will end up once the facility shuts down for good.

Madonna Care Community shutting its doors for good over coming months

Betty Yakimenko, left, poses with her mother Elsie Stadler, who lives at Madonna Care Community. The Orléans home is shutting down over the next few months as its owner, Sienna Senior Living, says making major repairs would be too disruptive. (Submitted by Betty Yakimenko)

Vera Iodko's time at Madonna Care Community hasn't been easy, her daughter says, and now she needs to move due to the nursing home's looming closure.

Iodko moved into the privately-owned, 160-bed long-term care home in Orléans back in early 2020. 

Over the course of that year, 47 of Iodko's fellow residents, plus two staff members and the spouse of a worker, died after contracting COVID-19.

Genya Webster, Iodko's daughter, said that since then the home has undergone changes in management and started on some lengthy upgrades.

But then those stopped "for months," she said, and family members got no updates.

Now the home's owner, Sienna Senior Living, says the work that's needed to address significant water damage and mould would take years of unreasonably disruptive construction to complete.

So the company is permanently closing the facility over the next several months and moving its residents elsewhere. 

"We just don't know where she'll end up," Webster said of her mother. "My biggest concern is that my mom ... will be far away from us."

A message thanking health-care workers is seen beside a statue of Mary outside the home in May 2020 during the initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Worried about losing experienced staff

Betty Yakimenko is also worried about where her mom, Elsie Stadler, will end up.

Stadler has advanced dementia and has lived at Madonna Care Community for six years, Yakimenko said. 

"My concern is that [she could end up in homes] that don't have a good track record," she said. 

Ontario's long wait list for people looking to get into a preferred nursing home also nags at Yakimenko, as does her fear about losing staff who are familiar with her mother's needs. 

New workers don't know residents' "likes and dislikes, their quirks and quarks," she said. 

Families will be involved

In an email, Sienna Senior Living told CBC it has a detailed plan to ensure staffing is properly maintained for residents during the wind-down process.

As for moving residents to new homes, Madonna's team will co-ordinate with the Local Health Integration Network, which will "establish and lead the relocation process, considering residents' choice of home," according to a letter sent to residents' families and shared with CBC. 

That plan will also be carried out in conjunction with family members, the company told CBC, and is being reviewed by the Ministry of Long-Term Care.

Genya Webster, left, poses with her mother Vera Iodko, middle, and sister Anna Dorion, right. Despite her concerns about the Madonna Care Community's impending closure, Webster says she hopes her mother will end up in one of the 'seemingly nice homes out there.' (courtesy Genya Webster)

Susan Braedley, a professor of social work at Carleton University, said homes typically move residents to the next available bed nearby.

But that move itself can be fraught for "people who are already experiencing high levels of frailty, chronic illness and dementia," Braedley said.

Building isn't that old 

Sienna Senior Living also told CBC it discovered irreparable water damage and mould "linked to the original building design and construction predating our ownership."

Sienna acquired the home in 2012 under a different company name. 

While Sienna planned to do a wide-ranging retrofit, the scope of the project expanded "beyond what is reasonable for residents and team members to endure" and would have resulted in "a construction zone for multiple years," according to its statement.

"This situation would not serve the residents' best interests," the company said.

Yakimenko noted Madonna Care Community only opened in 2007 and yet is already being shuttered.

"Not being a construction person or an engineer, my first thought is, if it's only 15 years old, then it wasn't built properly in the first place," she said. 

As for Webster, while she's worried about where her mom will land, she's hopeful too.

"There are some seemingly nice homes out there. They're rare, but maybe my mom would have a choice to go into one of them," she said. "But we don't know."

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