The Ontario government has announced that it will be investing another $933 million in new and redeveloped long term care beds across the province.
Candace Chartier of Southbridge Care Homes, which owns Bayfield Manor in Kemptville, says this is the most historic budget that the sector has ever seen. It will finance 80 long term care projects across the province to build 9,478 new beds and upgrade 5,212 beds in Ontario. “It’s just incredible how many projects are going forward,” she says.
One such project is currently underway behind Bayfield Manor. Southbridge broke ground on their new 160-bed facility in November, which will bring an additional 94 long-term care spaces to the community. In the fall, the provincial government announced that Southbridge would be receiving $7.6 million to support these local long-term care beds.
Bayfield’s Executive Director, Gerry Miller, says there is a definitely a need for these additional beds in the community. Their waiting list typically sits at around 125 people; but it has recently increased to almost 200. “Most of the people that get admitted here tell us that they’ve been on the waitlist for around a year, year and a half,” Gerry says.
Candace says the new building will be a marked improvement to what they currently offer at Bayfield Manor. The facility will be divided into home areas where no more than 32 residents will be sharing a space. They will be eliminating ward rooms to focus on private and semi-private accommodations, and each home area will include lounge spaces and intimate dining areas. The new building has also been designed to promote infection control and lessen cross contamination. “A whole bunch of work has gone into it, basically coming out of COVID, of how we can design these homes to be better for staff, families and residents,” Candace says.
Keeping COVID-19 out of Bayfield Manor has been top of mind for all the staff at the home. Gerry says it has been a very challenging year for the administration and staff, but especially for residents and families. With the support of Southbridge, Gerry says they have been able to adapt to all the necessary protocols to keep residents and staff safe. They have also been maintaining constant contact with resident’s families, especially in the early days of the pandemic when fear was high, and have been able to make use of technology to allow for much needed social interaction with loved ones. “The COVID experience has certainly created a lot of challenges and we certainly wouldn’t want to relive it; but I do think that in some ways it’s brought us together as a community and made us stronger,” he says.
Helen Trimble is one of 57 retirement residents at Bayfield Manor. She has been living at Bayfield since 2018 and is adamant that there is no place she would rather be. Although the building is old and needs upkeep, Helen says it is much more welcoming than some of the newer residences that are being built. “To me they’re big and they’re cold and they’re not cozy,” she says. “To me this place, old as it is, is much cozier and more at home.”
Helen says that Bayfield staff have gone above and beyond to keep all the residents, both retirement and long-term care, happy throughout the pandemic. “They’re doing all they can to keep us entertained in here and certainly there’s lots of entertainment going on,” she says. “They have the euchre games and bingo and shuffleboard and exercises and music when they can, church services virtually. Its about all they can do. All the staff are certainly working over and above what’s required of a retirement home staff.”
According to Helen, residents have been told that once the new facility is complete, the area that houses the current long-term care facility will be renovated to make additional retirement spaces. She also heard that the current retirement suites will be getting a face lift. “I am looking forward to it, although I am perfectly happy where I am,” she says.
Candace says Southbridge Homes will be engaging the North Grenville community to see how they can best use the old building once the new facility is complete. “As this process goes forward, we want to meet with the community and see what the needs are, then take that back to the group and look at what works best for the community.” Gerry also acknowledged that the retirement portion of Bayfield provides a great service to the Kemptville community and has for a long time. “It’s not the only retirement home in town, but it’s one that provides, I think, a good service to the population and we certainly intend to maintain that.”
According to Gerry it has been very exciting to see the bones of the new building start to go in behind Bayfield. The construction crew worked all through the winter and Candace says they are on pace to open the facility in June 2022. Although it will be a process with Southbridge and the Ministry to fill the beds and have adequate staffing in place, Gerry doesn’t believe it will take long to occupy the facility. “We anticipate being at full occupancy as soon after June next year as possible,” he says.