Senior care homes on the island need better funding
March was a stark month for Bermuda. It was startling that a number of nursing homes had Covid-19 cases and some were spread by care workers on shift work at more than one home.
Many well-trained and hard-working nurses and nursing aides work at more than one location because of demand for care and because the income is low compared with the cost of living in Bermuda.
In retrospect, the deaths related to Covid-19 were limited as the Ministry of Health along with the Office of Ageing and Seniors worked diligently to contain and test. The past few months were a wake-up call nonetheless, focusing attention on the state of the care facilities for seniors in Bermuda.
With a tsunami of ageing residents, the need for living and care options is expanding rapidly. Bermuda lives somewhere between England and the US care models. For example, Sheltered Housing in Britain is a small apartment with an alert cord and a shared sitting with little else. There are also British full nursing homes wherein residents are custodied in a room with meals in a common area, unless seniors must be fed in their room.
In the US, there are independent retirement villages with continuing care options for the transitions to higher levels of care. The care levels are based on the seven activities of daily living: dressing, feeding, bathing, transferring, toileting, walking, memory. Insurance payments are based on the loss of some of these activities, which can negatively impact a senior’s health.
The Bermuda care approaches are based on the best-intention business model and, in many cases, charities. Financial support for some residents is necessary. Problems develop when funds are short. The Government has been subsidising many care facilities. However, other means of funding must be found. To be sustainable, there must be an approach that provides sufficient cashflow, but with the bottom line being sound healthcare.
Senior Solutions Ltd has developed senior care models with an international expert on the continuing care continuum. The challenge is the “spark capital”, as director delMonte Davis calls it. There have been indications of interest from several corporate and institutional funders. Those funders are requiring that Bermuda has several hundreds of thousands of committed capital first.
There are three care communities on the drawing board for development. A needs analysis for the Bermuda populace, based on a professional assessment, indicates the island can support an independent senior community, a daycare with respite centre, and a memory care facility.
Senior Solutions continues to seek spark capital and indications of interest. The island cannot afford to delay much longer. While many seniors remain at home, this is a great option with the right level of support and mental stimulation.
It sounds easier than it is. Many families crack under the strain. Other options should be available. Staying at home alone is also not the best option for maintaining mental alertness. Without a sufficient level of senior care infrastructure, future health crises maybe more challenging.
• Patrice Horner is a director of Senior Solutions Ltd, holds a Master of Business Administration degree in Finance and is a certified financial planner
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