An aging Winnipeg care home is closing and many more need upgrades

As an aging Winnipeg care home gets ready to close its doors, experts are working on new national standards for outdated facilities.

Gillian Lavallee’s husband, Arthur, was a resident of Parkview Place Long Term Care Home before he died last October.

The facility didn’t meet her standards.

“It was very, very old and needed a lot of renovations in there,” Lavallee said.

The outdated design and layout that is no longer conducive to caring for elderly patients is why Revera, the company that operates Parkview, announced on Tuesday it will be shutting down next year.

Read more: Parkview Place care home closing its doors in Winnipeg next year

Parkview was the site of one of Manitoba’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks.

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As much as Lavallee agrees with the decision, she’s disappointed at the same time.

“We need nursing homes in Winnipeg,” she said. “We don’t have enough.”

Jan Legeros, the executive director of the Long Term and Continuing Care Association of Manitoba is disappointed too.

“Funding increases have not occurred for more than 10 years and capital funding has been little to non-existent, so I guess it’s not surprising that it’s come to a point where renovations just aren’t feasible any longer,” Legeros said.

It’s not clear how many care homes in Manitoba are considered outdated, but in Ontario for example, one in three beds are from 1972 standards, according to Dr. Samir Sinha, director of Geriatrics at Sinai Health and the University Health Network in Toronto.

“They’re not actually designed to meet the modern day standards,” Sinha said.

Read more: Ontario long-term care homes association calls for mandatory vaccines for all health-care workers

Sinha is helping to lead the development of new national long-term care standards.

A modern care home, according to Sinha, would include spacious rooms, wide hallways, large common areas and plenty of outdoor space.

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He said these upgrades are important because many residents these days aren’t as independent as they were decades ago.

“If you look at the typical person entering a long-term care home today, 90 per cent of them are living with some form of cognitive impairment, 60 per cent of them are at least living with dementia, over half of them are having limitations with their mobility,” Sinha said.

Sinha is concerned about operators who can’t afford renovations and decide to shut down because it will result in less beds for those who need them.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) said it expects to have enough capacity to find new spots for Parkview’s 160 residents.

There are currently 302 people waiting for a bed in Winnipeg — eight of which are considered urgent.

Although there are open spots, the WRHA said it’s not unusual to have a waitlist as many are waiting for openings in certain homes.

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