The cover of the Newfoundland and Labrador Progressive Conservatives 2011 Blue Book.
With one of the province’s personal care homes expected to close this week, Andrew Parsons, Liberal MHA for Burgeo-La Poile, is urging the provincial government to live up to its promises for this sector.
In its 2011 Blue Book, Parsons said, the PC party committed to “enhance the role of personal care homes,” while previous Blue Books committed to streamlining assessments for long-term care, and equated jobs saved in health care as jobs saved in the community.
But, “rather than honour their commitments,” Parsons said in a news release, “they are cutting personal care homes off at the knees.”
Kennedy's Personal Care Home in Holyrood is slated to close this week. Parsons said owner/operator Genevieve Kennedy was in the news two years ago forecasting this closure. “It was inevitable,” he said. “Personal care homes are in a real quandary,” Parsons said. While they are private businesses, he said, they’re subject to extensive regulations and staffing requirements.
“Regulations are a good thing, but they’re costly. Personal care homes are also one of only a few businesses that cannot recover HST on purchases. When government revised the operating standards in 2006/07, they should have factored in the impact on these smaller homes to even survive,” Parsons said.
Compounding this situation, Parsons said, is the fact that 73 per cent of personal care home residents are subsidized, meaning government pays the difference between a resident’s income and the monthly rate charged by the personal care home. He said government sets that rate for subsidized residents at $1,800 per month. “Caring for someone on a $60 a day budget, which must cover a variety of costs imposed by government, such as staffing levels, sprinkler systems, diet, etc. is not feasible," he said, "especially for smaller homes. This latest closure is a reflection of that.”
By 2020, it's estimated that 25 per cent of the province’s population will be over 65 years of age.
“The baby boom is now over 55,” said Parsons. “We all knew this was coming. This government has had almost a decade, as well as billions in oil revenues, to prepare for this. Here we are, with long-term care patients occupying acute care beds at a cost of $45,000 per month per bed while personal care homes are closing because they cannot survive on the current subsidized rate. No wonder wait times are a problem here,” the MHA added. “No wonder we have the highest per capita healthcare costs in the country.”