Care-home operator says lack of support could force her to close

Daniel MacEachern
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Government funding hasn’t kept pace with operating costs, says association

A C.B.S. care home operator says she’ll have to close her doors without more support from the provincial government.

Diane Fagan and Greg Coates, who own and operate Coates Community Care Home in Upper Gullies, C.B.S., may be forced to close their facility because of a lack of support from the provincial government which is keeping the home’s beds empty. — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

Diane Fagan and Greg Coates, owners of the Coates Community Care home in Upper Gullies — one of 14 homes in Eastern Health’s network serving people with mental health problems and addictions — informed Eastern Health on Monday they can’t sustain the 20-bed home, which has been just more than half-full for years.

“They haven’t been bringing anybody to my home for the past couple of years,” said Fagan on Tuesday.

“We are governed by the Waterford Hospital, and we’re not allowed to take residents. So for instance, if you have a mentally ill brother, I wouldn’t be able to say, ‘OK, he’s allowed to live in my house.’ He actually has to go through the Waterford Hospital, and then through Community Care.”

Patients who would have come to Fagan’s home in the past are now being diverted into other programs, she said.

“They’re putting them in apartments and staffing them 24 hours,” she said.

“We’re strictly for people with persistent mental health (issues),” said Sis Scott, a board member of the Community Care Association.

“Once they’ve gone through the hospital and can’t go out on their own, there’s no family for them to take them back. There’s nowhere for them to go. They have to be supervised 24/7 — this is where we come in.”

But the numbers are dwindling, and small care homes need help, said Scott. Funding from the government hasn’t kept pace with costs for required expenses such as security,’’ she said

“(Fagan) needs the financial funding to be able to run this home, and they’re not giving it to her,” she said, adding it costs Fagan just as much to staff her home with 11 patients in it as it does to staff the home when it’s at capacity.

Fagan said it was a difficult decision to close her doors.

“I spent most of my day crying yesterday,” she said. “It’s very difficult.” She said she’s losing money operating the home, although she declined to say how much. She said she’ll be closing May 23 unless she can get more support.

In the House of Assembly Tuesday, Liberal MHA Andrew Parsons raised the issue, demanding answers.

“The reason they are closing the doors is because government does not provide them with enough funding to cover the staff required. The owner has essentially been working 24 hours a day and is simply burnt out,” he said.

“I ask the minister, are you aware of it, and what are you planning to do to fix this?”

Health Minister Susan Sullivan wasn’t in the legislature Tuesday, but Finance Minister Charlene Johnson responded on her behalf, saying the government is trying to support private-care providers.

“We certainly as a government are aware of the excellent service that these community care homes and personal care homes provide to people who reside in them,” Johnson said.

“That is why, Mr. Speaker, in this year’s budget we committed to increase the subsidy to personal-care homes from $1,850 a month to $1,950 a month.”

At that point, the Liberals moved on to asking questions about other issues, but Parsons said to Johnson that community-care and personal-care homes are very different, and the fact that the government treats them the same is part of the problem.

He said that seniors are easier to care for than people with complex mental health needs, and because they’re being funded at the same rate, it put the community-care homes in a major financial squeeze.

Twitter: @TelegramDaniel

Organizations: Waterford Hospital, Diane Fagan and Greg Coates, Community Care Association

Geographic location: Upper Gullies

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Recent comments

  • Denise
    April 17, 2014 - 12:10

    As former manager of an 18 bed community care home, I know the home owner made 6 figures as staff and manager alike were forced to go against Community Care Centre policy and have only one person working in the home on most days...especially weekends...leaving clients at risk. It is most definitely these people, and not the home owner, who burnt out. I can not speak for Coates. I can only speak for the home that I worked in. The staff of the Community Care Home Centre are very educated, knowledgeable and caring people but were not aware of what was happening within the home as we had very strict instructions by the home owner as to what to say and not say to the Centre. Unfortunately, it is the home owner who signs our pay cheques; therefore, home owner policy was followed rather than Eastern Health policies. Where there is money to be made, the potential for greed runs rampant.

  • Thomas
    April 16, 2014 - 11:15

    I am sure this individual has provided a valuable service in the past however I feel that housing this number of individuals under one roof indicates an institution. I would think that these individuals residing in single family units is both more beneficial and home like. With the growing need for personal care homes for seniors I would think if she shifted her focus on this type of arrangement she would not only provide a needed service but also do very well.