Small care homes in trouble

Dave Bartlett
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One owner stopped paying mortgage to catch up with mounting bills

She's not giving up yet, but personal care home owner Genevieve Kennedy doesn't know how much longer she can keep her business afloat.

Kennedy told The Telegram in February that unless the province did something for homes like hers in this year's budget, she would likely be boarding it up when the minimum wage goes up again on July 1.

Genevieve Kennedy is doing everything she can to save her personal care home in Holyrood from closing. She's hoping the province will do something to help hers and other small, rural personal care homes survive. - File photo by Dave Bartlett/The Telegram

She's not giving up yet, but personal care home owner Genevieve Kennedy doesn't know how much longer she can keep her business afloat.

Kennedy told The Telegram in February that unless the province did something for homes like hers in this year's budget, she would likely be boarding it up when the minimum wage goes up again on July 1.

The province did raise the subsidy for personal care homes an extra $73 per resident per month in the budget, but according to Kennedy, that amounts to an extra 10 cents per hour.

Next Thursday, she will have to start paying her employees an extra 25 cents an hour.

Her other costs, such as food for residents and heat for the home, are always on the rise.

Kennedy has been as creative as possible over the last few months to try and save her business.

"I was paying interest only on the mortgage and now it has gotten to the point where I have given up paying the mortgage," Kennedy said.

She's now using that $4,000 a month to pay off all the other bills that have been piling up.

"I am going to fight tooth and nail. I can't afford to lose this business," she told The Telegram Monday. "I'm doing everything humanly possible to save it."

In the House of Assembly last week, the Liberals questioned Health Minister Jerome Kennedy about the plight of the smaller homes.

The minister told the House he had met with an owner of a larger personal care home, who wasn't looking for another bump in the provincial subsidy.

But in a letter sent to the minister the day after, the Personal Care Home Owners Association of Newfoundland and Labrador said it's been asking to meet with the minister since he took over the portfolio in October.

The letter also accuses the province of favouring the larger homes, often based in bigger towns and cities, over the smaller, rural ones.

Genevieve Kennedy said she didn't want to believe that was true, but now thinks it is.

"They're starving us out," she said.

"Here we are caring for the seniors of the province, same as (the bigger homes), and we don't qualify for a meeting?" Kennedy asks. "We have a registered association."

Kennedy has about a dozen residents living at her 33 bed home in Holyrood. Some have been there since before she took it over in 1987.

She said one of her longtime, 91 year-old residents asked her recently if it's possible for her to stay open until she dies, because she doesn't want to go anywhere else.

Kennedy told the lady she's trying as hard as she can to stay open.

Her staff, all women, are worried about their jobs. They sent a letter to their MHA, Transportation Minister Tom Hedderson, on April 30 asking the government to help their employer. They haven't received a response.

Kennedy and association president Shaun Lane have a meeting scheduled with Eastern Health CEO Vickie Kaminski on Wednesday.

She hopes Eastern Health may be able to help.

Kennedy said she's going to meet with everyone and try everything she can to save her business, staff positions and her residents' home.

"I'm scared, I'm angry but the fight is still in me," she said.

"I'm not beaten yet."

The association believes at least four other small personal care homes in the province are in danger of closing.

dbartlett@thetelegram.com

Organizations: The Telegram, Personal Care Home Owners Association of Newfoundland and Labrador

Geographic location: Holyrood

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  • denise
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    I am also manage a personal care home. I understand exactly what Mrs. Kennedy is aluding to. It is a strugle every month...You do become creative. Employee payroll is at least one thrid of your expenses if not more, espeacially now that min wage is increasing. Not that your employees do not deserve it..I wish Icould offer them more but we are not in the position to do so. If you talk with other home owners you will hear the same cries, it's just nobody is listening. Good Luck Gen, my prayers are always with you

  • denise
    July 01, 2010 - 20:09

    I am also manage a personal care home. I understand exactly what Mrs. Kennedy is aluding to. It is a strugle every month...You do become creative. Employee payroll is at least one thrid of your expenses if not more, espeacially now that min wage is increasing. Not that your employees do not deserve it..I wish Icould offer them more but we are not in the position to do so. If you talk with other home owners you will hear the same cries, it's just nobody is listening. Good Luck Gen, my prayers are always with you