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Dec. 17, 2018 | Monday
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Upper Canada Lodge expected to close, Pleasant Manor to expand
Upper Canada Lodge. (Penny Coles/Niagara Now)

Niagara Region, which operates Upper Canada Lodge in addition to seven other long-term care homes, is expected to announce a decision about the future of the Niagara-on-the-Lake facility in January,  but it does not appear interested in keeping it open.

It's one of three Regional homes requiring extensive upgrades to meet Provincial standards. The Region has decided to ask the Province for funding to expand the other two, Gilmore Lodge in Fort Erie and Linhaven in St. Catharines, with the intention of turning them into community hubs for seniors.

Asked about the future of Upper Canada Lodge, Regional communications consultant Katie Desharnais said, "We can confirm we are unable to redevelop on the current Upper Canada Lodge site as the site constraints do not meet the ministry's redevelopment criteria."

Pat Darte, who sat on the Regional task force looking into funding possibilities for long-term care, said although the Region has not officially announced the closure of Upper Canada Lodge, not redeveloping it indicates the decision has been made. 

Upper Canada Lodge can accommodate 80 residents, and the Region is looking for money to redevelop larger homes that could offer a continuum of care and be more economical to run, said Darte.

Only about half of the residents at Upper Canada Lodge are from NOTL, Darte said. Although there are other elderly locals scattered across Niagara in other facilities, the numbers don't justify the Region spending the money required to bring the NOTL home up to code by 2025, the deadline set by the Province.

Dennis Dick, on the board of Pleasant Manor in Virgil, says there are plans for a new state-of-the-art long-term care facility on four acres of undeveloped land on the Elden Street site. Pleasant Manor has recently been rebranded as Radiant Care Pleasant Manor, and is governed by a nine-member volunteer board of directors. It is a private, not-for-profit charitable organization. Provincial funding is already in place to accommdate 128 residents, said Dick.

Construction could begin tomorrow and would provide "more than enough beds" for NOTL seniors requiring long-term care, he added. But with additional space needed region-wide, the build is being delayed while the Pleasant Manor board lobbies for more funding to build a larger facility for up to 224 residents.

The end result will be determined by the Province, and the board is hopeful some of the funding announced by Premier Doug Ford recently for long-term care will end up in Virgil. The plan is to create a campus-style facility with everything from rental apartments, wellness suites for those who need temporary medical attention, seniors day care, and long-term care to allow aging in place. They're even looking at adding a child daycare centre, said Dick.

"I get the impression the Region doesn't want to be in the nursing home business," he added. "If we can get our new facility up and running, there won't be a need to revamp Upper Canada Lodge."

NOTL has the most seniors per capita in the region, and "obviously we want to care for the seniors here." Expanding Pleasant Manor will help ease the pressure on Regional long-term care homes and hospitals, he said.

Determining which patients get those beds, whether in a private, not-for profit or Regional home, is handled by the Niagara Community Care Access Centre, said Dick, according to need, which is why NOTL residents are sometimes sent to out-of-town homes, and others from different municipalities end up in NOTL. "When a bed becomes free, we don't get to choose who gets it. It's based on who needs it most."

The cost of long-term care is set by the Province, and is the same at for-profit, not-for-profit and Regional homes, with Provincial subsidies available for those who require help.

Ford has also promised an end to "hallway medicine," and that means more long-term care for seniors who are now in hospital while they wait for an available space in a nursing home, said Dick.

"We can get people out of corridors in our hospitals by providing more nursing home beds for those who don't have anywhere else to go."

The need for long-term care is not going away, he added,. "There will likely be a glut of baby boomers who will need beds. We need to build for them now."

This story has been edited. The original story mistakenly stated Pleasant Manor was recently taken over by Revera Retirement Living and Long-term Care Services. In fact, Pleasant Manor is operated by Radiant Care and has not changed hands, but was rebranded. The Lake Report apologizes for the error and any inconvenience it may have caused. More information about Radiant Care can be found at, https://radiantcare.net/.

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