Packed up but no place to go

The transfer of nursing home residents into Michener Village Extendicare has been halted due to a lack of staff.

Paulette Bearer chats with her 97-year-old mother Helene Leger Monday: The Valley Park Manor resident’s move to Michener Village Extendicare has been stopped due to a staff shortage.

Paulette Bearer chats with her 97-year-old mother Helene Leger Monday: The Valley Park Manor resident’s move to Michener Village Extendicare has been stopped due to a staff shortage.

The transfer of nursing home residents into Michener Village Extendicare has been halted due to a lack of staff.

Paulette Bearer, whose mother Helene Leger, 97, was suppose to move into Extendicare on Monday, said there were only two staff in her mother’s unit, which will hold 12 residents.

“I went up to the floor where my mother, who is completely incapacitated, would be moved today. Nobody was ready for her. We cancelled the move,” said Bearer on Monday as provincial and Extendicare officials spoke at the official grand opening of the 280-bed continuing care facility.

“I did not expect to come here and find this mess. I live in the States. I know what bad health care is like.”

Bearer said it takes two people and a lift to put her mother to bed or get her out of bed and into her wheelchair. It takes 20 minutes, two people and a lift to get her to the bathroom. It takes two people to dress her in the morning and undress her at night. It takes one person to feed her.

Extendicare says the transfer of residents was put on hold this weekend.

“Extendicare came to us on Friday and effectively said they wanted to take a pause on their admissions and do a check on their staffing levels and make sure everything is in place,” said Kerry Bales, vice-president of AHS Central Zone.

So far 157 residents from Red Deer Nursing Home and Valley Park Manor have moved into Extendicare since Sept. 1.

Moves will cease for the next couple of days.

“Once we confirm staffing is where we want it to be, we’ll resume admissions again. We want (residents) to be safe. We want them to have a good experience. No one will move until we’re confident that’s in place.”

Extendicare is working on hiring more staff and has brought in staff from other Extendicare facilities in Alberta to help out. Michener Village Extendicare administrator David Gutsher said staffing is at 60 per cent for its 220 long-term care beds.

“We have some people who are doing double shifts and we have some people who are doing some overtime and stuff like that to cover it off,” Gutsher said.

The plan was to complete the transfer by Oct. 5.

Seniors and Community Supports Minister Mary Anne Jablonski said the staff shortage is a result of needing to staff Red Deer Nursing Home, Valley Park Manor and Extendicare all at the same time during the transfer.

“Staffing is a concern we’ve faced before . . . and it’s reared its ugly head again. I’m sure that Extendicare will have a handle on that immediately because we know how important it is to have the right amount of staff in place,” Jablonski said.

The Red Deer North MLA said she is proud of the attractive and welcoming new facility that feels “more home-like for our seniors and less hospital-like, less institutional.”

Extendicare resident Velda Scott said she loves her new room, but her mobility is restricted because of the staff shortage.

The new publicly-funded, privately-operated facility opened after people protested the closure of the two aging public nursing homes and their 216 long-term care beds.

Extendicare will only increase the number of long-term care beds in the city by four, and will add 60 designated assisted living beds for people with higher health needs, but do not yet need to go into long-term care.

Bearer said she tries to avoid for-profit health care.

“I’ve never understood how for-profit organizations can care for the sick. Since I live in the States, I have to deal with that all the time. They understaff, underpay, under-supply. How else are they going to make money?”

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com