ADVOCATE HARBOUR – It seems this community is getting its promised additional long-term care beds, but not quite the way it had expected.
Two beds that had previously been designated as “swing beds” that could be used for palliative care were closed late last year due to unavailable RNs to staff the facility, the community was told by Cumberland Health Authority officials at a public meeting at the Advocate Fire Hall on March 11.
Those two beds have now been designated for long-term care, fulfilling in a backdoor way a previous promise of two new long-term care beds. That was not the way it was supposed to happen, according to Marchel Strong, one of 65 area residents packing into the fire hall for the meeting.
“The community worked long and hard to raise funds necessary to meet the government’s requirements to build these two new beds and improve storage, etc.,” she said.
The long-promised expansion to Bayview Community Health Centre is still planned, but will not include the two new beds, the crowd was told.
The health authority also announced at the meeting a $22 million program to enhance the current home care program, designed to keep more seniors in their homes until end of life.
“As far as I am concerned and until I am convinced otherwise, this is just putting good money into a system that has not worked the way it was intended from the start in 1996-97,” said Strong. “It is going to put the burden of care back on the family as it was years ago.”
County councillor Don Fletcher agreed that the new system places more of a strain on family members to care for their dying loved ones.
While it unfortunately offered no solutions, he said the meeting was positive in that it allowed the direct discussion to take place between the community and the decision-makers.
“It got people in the room, and talking to people who actually can make some difference, or get steps going to make a difference,” said Fletcher. “To get 65 people in this little community all in one room tells you that there has to be some interest.”
People were encouraged to forward their concerns to their local MLA and the provincial government.
Strong expressed frustration over the fact that important decisions like these are made without community input, and are only explained after the fact.
“We are so isolated here and yet this is never taken into consideration when all these plans are made,” she said. “Discussion is great, but action is better.”