PEI

Lack of nurses keeping new wing at P.E.I. seniors' home closed

A long-term care home on P.E.I. that completed a major expansion has hit an unforeseen roadblock — it can't open the new wing because it can't find nurses to work there.

'The building is open and we can't open right now'

The new wing at Le Chez Nous includes 12 bedrooms equipped for residents who need nursing-level care, as well as space for socializing. (Laura Meader/CBC)

A seniors' home in Wellington, P.E.I., that completed a major expansion has hit an unforeseen roadblock — it can't open the new long-term care wing because it can't find nurses to work there. 

"The building is open and we can't open right now," said Julie Ouellette, the executive director of Le Chez Nous.

"It's stressful, it's a big expense to have the building ready and, you know, in working order and there's nobody occupying the rooms."

The new addition features an activity room and 12 bedrooms equipped for residents who need nursing-level care.

5 nurses needed

Ouellette said they've been looking for over a year to recruit five nurses. 

So far, they have managed to hire just one.  

"We definitely are recruiting everywhere in Canada," she said.  "We're spending a lot of our budget posting the jobs in Alberta and B.C., Ontario and Quebec."

'It's very difficult to find nurses,' says Julie Ouellette, executive director of Le Chez Nous. 'We've been recruiting for well over a year.' (Laura Meader/CBC)

Le Chez Nous is a non-profit co-operative. It opened 27 years ago to give local seniors the opportunity to stay in the Acadian community.

"The community advocated to get a long-term care facility in the area to keep as many seniors from the area in their region to receive care in French if they want to." 

It came close last month ... I was sent to Alberton hospital and they didn't think I could come back here.​​— Marie Anne Arsenault, resident

Right now, those who require long-term care have to move to the hospital, which sometimes results in couples being split up.

 "It's common," said Ouellette. 

"Whenever one requires a higher level of care and needs to move out, it's very hard on both of the spouses and it's hard on the families as well."

'Such a nice place'

 Marie Anne Arsenault, an 84-year-old resident at Le Chez Nous, said she was recently in the hospital herself and thought she might need to go to long-term care. 

"It came close last month. I was having seizures and I was sent to Alberton hospital and they didn't think I could come back here."

'I was close to going to one of those long-term care facilities,' says Marie Anne Arsenault. 'But it wouldn't have been in my community.' (Laura Meader/CBC)

Arsenault ending up getting better but said it's still disappointing they can't find the staff.  

"Every time I pass that way I kind of feel bad that it's not open," she said. "It's such a nice place."  

Despite the mission not going as planned thus far, Ouellette is optimistic that they will find the nurses they need soon. 

"I think we do have some good leads. I'm very confident that we are going to open in 2021," she said.

"Everybody absolutely wants it to open."

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Laura Meader

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