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An association of Manitoba non-profit nursing homes is asking for the province to alleviate what they call "chronic underfunding."
The Manitoba Association of Residential and Continuing Care Homes for the Elderly said in a press release sent out earlier this week that it represents the owners of 29 care homes that believe low funding levels have negatively affected resident care levels.
While only one COVID-19 death has been linked to a personal care home in Manitoba compared to higher numbers in provinces like Ontario and Quebec, the association believes having to provide care without adequate funding during the pandemic leaves employees and residents vulnerable.
"Many personal care homes — including all of those in Winnipeg — have not seen any funding increase for basic operations in more than 10 years," executive director Julie Turenne-Maynard said in the release. "During that same time, dietary expenses at MARCHE homes increased by 36 per cent and the cost of incontinent supplies increased 50 per cent. Funding of these items had to come at the expense of other departments."
MARCHE also said that the average care home needs $6 million in upgrades and that funding has barely increased in 25 years while inflation over the same time was 57 per cent.
The Dinsdale Personal Care Home, operated by The Salvation Army, is the only member of the association in Brandon. The Sun spoke with Maj. John McFarlane, the executive director of the home, about the difficulties the facility has faced in recent years and during the pandemic.
"We’ve had to buy a lot of personal protective equipment," McFarlane said. "All of our staff, you’ll see them wearing masks. If they’re working with a resident, you’ll see them wearing a face shield as well. If someone is in isolation, we have to gown up all of our staff any time we access that person."
To facilitate outdoor visits between residents and loved ones, the home has also had to hire an additional staff person for the summer. They have applied for funding for that position through the Manitoba Summer Student Recovery Jobs Program, but they are still waiting to be approved.
McFarlane didn’t have a specific number for how much these extra measures have cost as the home is still figuring out its financials for the fiscal quarter that ended on June 30.
Other than pandemic expenses, there are several capital and infrastructure projects the home would like to do but hasn’t been able to afford. McFarlane said that their administrative funding was also cut a couple of years ago. Food prices and an increase in maintenance costs have also been a drain on resources.
"Our building is now 35 years old and so we’re starting to repair more things," he said. "Ventilation, freezers, different things."
Dinsdale Personal Care Home receives approximately 75 per cent of its funding from the provincial government, with the rest coming from residents.
While the home is funded to provide 3.6 hours of care per resident per day, some of the older residents require more care.
MARCHE believes funding for at least 4.1 hours of care per resident per day should be provided.
» Twitter: @ColinSlark
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