Nursing home owner, union say more cash needed for seniors after funding cut

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Both the union and the president of a local nursing home are calling for more funding for aging seniors after the reorganization of a local home.

Fiddick’s Nursing Home in Petrolia recently received word its funding from the provincial government is being reduced. A number of the homes registered practical nurses have had their hours reduced and three have chosen a layoff instead of reduced hours according to the Christian Labour Association of Canada which represents the 140 workers at the home.

Personal support workers, who take care of the daily needs of the patients and are paid a lower wage, will take some of their work on.

Nursing homes across the province are funded based on how much patient care each resident needs. The higher the need, the higher the funding. The province calculates that once a year using a scale called the Case Mix Index or CMI.

Over the years, Fiddick’s has had one of the highest CMI rates in the province. Last year, it was lower so its funding was reduced. The effect of that cut from the province is only now being felt.

“The hardest decisions I have to make is to reduce staff,” says Fiddick who says he has the best staff and “my heart goes out to them” in this situation.

The problem with the funding system, says Fiddick, is it is always a year behind. The money being provided this year reflects last years’ resident needs. Now, as he has to reduce staff because of funding cuts, the needs have already increased.

“The problem is there is a one-year lag in the funding model,” he says. “It should be more current…every six months.”

And while Fiddick acknowledges the province moves very slowly when making decisions he thinks six months is not unreasonable.

CLAC Regional Director Trish Douma says the reduction in this year’s funding has been difficult; “Think of the turmoil in the employees life.”

The union, she says, has worked with Fiddick’s to reorganize staff to make the cuts more manageable.

“I don’t want to make light of the cutbacks,” says Fiddick “but they could be more significant. We’ll have to tough it out to April 2016.”

Douma says the situation at Fiddick’s also underscores the need for more funding in the nursing home system.

Labour organizations have recently renewed their calls for the government to provide money for four hours of care per patient compared to the two-and-a half they now receive.

Fiddick agrees. “I don’t think the provincial government is focused on long-term care,” he says.

“We need more funding for PSWs and Nursing staff…(the province’s funding) hasn’t kept up with the times or inflation. The old saying is true, the province is offering prisoners more per day than they are offering to seniors in nursing homes…it is a shame.”

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