French people

French PEI seniors’ home suspends long-term care plans

When a seniors’ residence in Wellington, Prince Edward Island, was licensed for 12 long-term beds in 2018, members of the French-speaking community were relieved their loved ones could spend the rest of their life in a familiar environment with nurses who spoke their language.

But four years later, it’s still a dream.

Not because they don’t want to, said Claudette Thériault, interim general manager of La Coopérative Le Chez-Nous Ltée. It’s because they can’t find bilingual nurses to hire.

“We had absolutely no success,” she said. “No candidate has applied.”

So this spring, the Chez-Nous board of directors made the “difficult” decision to suspend the long-term care plan and fill the rooms with community care patients.

After failing to hire registered nurses for its long-term care beds, Chez-Nous is now hiring staff for its community care service. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

There is a waiting list for community care, Thériault said, so there will be no problem filling all 12 rooms, bringing the number of residents at the home to 60.

But when a resident needs a higher level of care, they will need to be transferred to a long-term facility.

“That’s the saddest part,” Theriault said.

“The whole process at the beginning was to make sure that the elderly in our community could live here forever and continue to live here regardless of their health condition. If they have dementia, they could continue to live here forever. live here and live in the language where they were born, grew up and live their whole lives in French.”

Jason Lee, CEO of PEI Seniors Homes, says the incentives offered in other provinces can be hard to match. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

Jason Lee, CEO of PEI Seniors Homes, said staffing – and not just nursing – is an issue in long-term care across the island. Some employees have retired, others have left Prince Edward Island to work in other provinces, and the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the influx of immigrants who make up a large part of Workforce.

“Everything has changed, it seems, in the last couple of years,” he said.

series of misfortunes

A series of misfortunes have contributed to the current situation. Chez-Nous had actually hired three nurses in 2019, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, new hires were unable to move to Prince Edward Island and kept finding others. jobs.

A fire in January 2021 again sidelined recruitment efforts, as residents were displaced for months while the house was rebuilt.

Over the past few months, Chez-Nous has searched for nurses across Canada and abroad, offering incentives and salaries competitive with those in the public sector.

Elevators and other equipment for long-term care beds were purchased shortly after Chez-Nous received its long-term care license in 2018. (Jessica Doria-Brown)

This can be a tough sell for nurses who may be reluctant to give up their seniority by changing jobs, and the incentives offered by other provinces are hard to match.

Lee said some staff at Whisperwood Villa in Charlottetown took jobs in Ontario after receiving “extremely large” signing bonuses to work as registered nurses.

“I can’t blame them”

“I really can’t blame them,” he said. “They were ready to move and that was a really enticing incentive.”

Theriault said they will try to work with the government to recruit nurses and keep their long-term care license, but in the meantime they have to fill rooms with community care patients.

It’s disappointing for families who may see parents or grandparents move to another facility to end their lives, she said.

“They could be 95, and all of a sudden they’ll be spending the last years of their lives in a language they might not understand. It’s a very, very sad part.”