The County submitted an application last week for 76 new long-term care beds that would support the redevelopment of H.J. McFarland Memorial Home.
In November last year the province announced their Aging with Confidence action plan for seniors. The plan outlined the Ontario government’s plan to establish 5,000 new long-term care beds by 2022 and 30,000 new beds over the next decade. On Feb. 12 the province issued a call for applications for the new beds with a closing date of Friday, March 2.
During last Thursday’s committee-of-the-whole meeting, chief administrative officer James Hepburn told councillors the County had prepared a submission to the South East Local Health Integration Network (SE LHIN).
The County last applied for new beds back in 2015 when the case was made for the 78 long-term care beds that were lost with the closing of the Picton Manor nursing home. The municipality was unsuccessful at that time and the beds were redistributed throughout the SE LHIN.
Hepburn said this time around the municipality is seeking 76 beds.
“Our application that we’re submitting will be for 76 new beds, which would facilitate the redevelopment of a new H.J. McFarland Home with 160 beds,” he said.
Hepburn said that number is based on new Ministry of Health and Long Term Care design criteria that calls for long-term care facilities to be developed with beds in multiples of 32. He said the number is also considered a more financially sustainable size within the long-term care community. The municipality is required to redevelop McFarland Home by 2025.
“It’s felt in the industry that that’s a good number, maybe a little bit on the low side, to achieve economies of scale which will help minimize the amount that the county has to contribute in tax dollars to support a redeveloped H.J. McFarland Home,” he said.
Hepburn said the County has had some discussions with the SE LHIN and have incorporated the body’s priorities in the application.
While he said there aren’t many details about the decision-making process, it’s expected the municipality could hear back as soon as May or June.
If successful, Hepburn said he believes the municipality would shortly afterward be asked to negotiate a development agreement which would come back to council for approval.
Councillor Kevin Gale questioned whether local demographics will come into play in the decision-making process and asked whether the future plans of local private care homes would be factored in as well.
Hepburn reiterated that little is known about the decision-making process, but he said he believes demographics could be considered. He said the municipality’s application this time around does include information on local demographics.
“We pointed that out to the ministry that we are very much an aging community and we are going to have a deficit of long-term care beds in the very near future,” he said.
That situation could be exacerbated, he said, if some of the smaller private long-term care facilities in the county decide to no redevelop.
“We could end up with a real deficit of beds,” he said.
A report with more details on the application is anticipated to come forward to councillors at a future date.