Denied beds no hindrance to Fairvern redevelopment
HUNTSVILLE – Convalescent beds are needed, but a denial of a provincial funding application that would have brought the service north will not slow Fairvern Nursing Home’s other redevelopment plans.
Bev MacWilliams, board chair for Fairvern, said funding for 12 convalescent care beds would have enhanced service at the Huntsville-based long-term care home and provided a much needed service in Muskoka. Fairvern has 76 beds with a waiting list of more than 60 names. The standalone facility is the only publicly funded long-term care facility in North Muskoka.
The province has issued new design standards for facilities across the province that must be underway by 2018. Fairvern is one of those facilities. It must redevelop its two-bed and four-bed shared rooms into single-bed private or two-bed semi-private rooms. MacWilliams said Fairvern is sustainable and will continue to be, even if it redevelops with the same number of beds.
But keeping the same number of beds would not meet the growing needs of the community. Fairvern is in discussion with the province regarding how many beds the facility can sustain to meet those future needs. And with its mind on expanding the number and types of beds it offers, Fairvern applied for the convalescent bed funding.
Tracy Badger, administrator for Fairvern, said the province identified through studies a need for convalescent care beds within North Simcoe Muskoka.
Convalescent care beds give people who need extra care, such as those recovering from a stroke or hip surgery, a place to stay outside an acute care hospital bed. Convalescent care beds provide services to those who need them while taking pressure off overburdened acute care facilities.
The North Simcoe Muskoka Local Health Integration Network began accepting proposals from providers interested in receiving funding for such beds. Fairvern was one of three funding applicants.
“With the support and partnership from the District of Muskoka, Town of Huntsville and Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare, we felt it was a strong submission,” said MacWilliams.
“It was a good solution for this area,” she said.
Jill Tettmann, acting chief executive officer for the local health integration network, said a panel of convalescent and long-term care professionals and local health integration network staff evaluated the three applications using clear and transparent criteria.
After a thorough discussion, said Tettmann, the panel awarded the funding to Leisureworld Caregiving Centre Muskoka in Gravenhurst. The facility will have a five-year licence to offer the service.
“It was very clear in our proposal call that we were looking to put resources into access for convalescent care to support the Muskoka and Orillia area,” said Tettmann. “We didn’t have the funding to put the resources in both geographic areas.”
The Gravenhurst-based facility provided a central location for that service.
And Tettmann said Fairvern had stated in its application that it would lease space in a long-term care home in Gravenhurst for two to three years until Fairvern had redeveloped. That was a concern to the panel, she said. But it does not mean the local health integration network will not revisit its decision in five years. Tettmann said her organization is supportive of Fairvern’s redevelopment and wants to do what it can to enhance its viability.
“It is absolutely a key resource to have available,” she said. “We will be working closely with Fairvern to ensure their success in moving forward with their redevelopment plans.”
MacWilliams said the redevelopment is still in its early stages.
The nursing home’s board is investigating potential partnerships with other service providers in the community, while thinking about the different kinds of services Fairvern can offer in future. It is also exploring a campus of care model that could see the facility relocate closer to other health-care facilities, such as the hospital, though further discussion is needed and no decision has been made.
“In the meantime, we’re not going to turn our back on this building,” said MacWilliams. “There are capital upgrades and things that need to be done to keep it desirable to our residents and keep our residents safe and happy. We’re fully capable of doing that.”
But Badger said change is necessary.
“When we talk about wanting to grow, it’s not necessarily long-term care beds we may grow with,” she said. “We know the baby boomers are coming and we do know the rate of Alzheimer’s Disease is increasing. We also know our behavioural support teams are put in place now to help organizations such as ours deal with those challenging residents.”
Information such as this could provide Fairvern an opportunity to specialize in some of these areas down the road.