The decision to permanently close 38 long-term care beds in Regina’s largest nursing home, Pioneer Village, is of great concern to registered nurses. Given the current trends of an ageing population with increasing healthcare needs, coupled with the growing number of patients already waiting for a long-term care bed in hospitals, this decision is not in the best interest of patients.
Many in the public may not know that currently a portion of beds in the often overcapacity hospitals are being allocated to patients waiting for a long-term bed. They are too ill to go home after entering the system but no longer require acute care services and are thus being kept on medical and surgical units until a long-term bed opens up – these patients are referred to as “Alternate Level of Care Patients”. This is costly to the system and compounds the overcapacity pressures we are already experiencing in the overburdened emergency rooms and hospitals.
The biggest impact of this decision is on patients. Patients who are waiting in hospitals for a space in long-term care and patients who are waiting in emergency rooms for a bed on the wards or being treated in hallways because of a lack of space – everything is interconnected.
The province is clearly in need of more public long-term care beds not less. This loss of 38 beds and 22 critically important members of the healthcare team is a major blow to a long-term care system that is already struggling to keep pace.
10% of beds to be closed at Pioneer Village
The Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region is permanently closing 38 long-term care beds in the city's largest nursing home.
Unit 3 East in Pioneer Village is slated to be shut down by sometime in September.
Greta Lynn Ell, the executive director of continuing care programming and utilization for the health region, told CBC the region is closing the beds to make repairs to the building.
"There are some fairly significant structural deficiencies within Pioneer Village. Closing down this area is part of a plan to be able to repair and renovate where necessary," said Ell.
She added they are working with the 38 residents affected by this change to either move them within Pioneer Village, place them in their preferred nursing homes within the region, or some may be able to leave the facility.
"On occasion, people are well enough that they are able to be discharged home," she said.
Residents occupying these beds require level 3 and 4 care, meaning they are unable to care for themselves. Their needs range from some help or nursing care to being bed ridden and requiring around the clock care.
The region says each long-term bed cost approximately $7,300 per month.
The closure of the beds in Pioneer Village will mean the loss of the equivalent of 22 full-time jobs.
In an email to CBC, the health region outlined those jobs as three registered nursing jobs, and 19 full-time equivalent CUPE jobs.
Unrelated to health region's deficit
In June, the health region announced it would subsidize 30 assisted living beds in Mutchmor Lodge and in an Eden Care facility in Regina.
The region stresses that the closure of long-term care beds and the subsidizing of assisted living beds are two separate things. There are no plans to move any of the 38 residents in Pioneer Village to these assisted living beds, which are for people who need a much lower level of care.
Ell adds the bed closures and job losses also have nothing to do with the Region's deficit and funding shortfall.
"We are intending that this will be cost neutral," said Ell.
"We don't expect the region to go into great debt, nor do we expect there will be huge savings. We're really focusing on what is the right service for folks at the right time and what is the right environment."