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Government provides $500,000 to prevent closure of three care homes

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Lorraine Rest Home is one of three homes that are getting financial help from the Government. The other two are Packwood Home and Matilda Smith-Williams Seniors Residence (File photograph)

Urgent funding of more than $500,000 is being given to three nursing homes to help them to keep going after the Covid pandemic, MPs heard yesterday.

Tinée Furbert, the Minister of Social Development and Seniors, told the House of Assembly that action was needed owing to the “unprecedented financial challenges” being felt by the sector.

The move will see Lorraine Rest Home receive $300,000, Packwood Home $123,000 and Matilda Smith-Williams Seniors Residence $85,000.

Ms Furbert said: “I was approached by the representatives of the three nursing homes that the Ministry of Social Development and Seniors have had traditionally provided grants to on an annual basis.

“The representatives of these three institutions indicated that if they did not receive additional funding, they may no longer be able to continue operating.

“This would have resulted in the following number of seniors as of December 31, 2021 being displaced by possible closures: Packwood Home, a 30-bed facility was at 60 per cent capacity with 18 occupying residents; Lorraine Rest Home was operating at 77 per cent capacity with 23 residents in its 30-bed facility; and Matilda Smith had 18 occupying residents at 75 per cent capacity in its 24-bed facility.”

Tinée Furbert, the Minister of Social Development and Seniors (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The minister added: “The nursing homes requested an injection grant, a stimulus, to assist them through this hardship.

“Government exercised its commitment to our seniors, and staff who support them, by providing a stimulus grant of $508,000 in total.

“These care homes have now commenced mitigation measures to realise cost savings which include, but are not limited to, increasing the intake of clients, developing consistent fundraising plans, and restructuring staffing and shifts.

“Moving forward, all standard grants awarded to care homes by the Ministry of Social Development and Seniors will now have specific conditions attached that include, but are not limited to, participating in the Bermuda Health Council financial audit, maintaining their charity status and maintaining their compliance with regulatory standards.”

The minister said that as of February, 119 people had died in the pandemic and 47 of those deaths, 39 per cent, were people aged between 60 and 79, and 45 deaths, 38 per cent were in the 80 and above range.

Ms Furbert said: “The operations of many nursing homes in Bermuda have been significantly impacted by the death tolls of their senior residents.

“Many of these homes experienced not only an increase in resident deaths, but temporary cessation of daycare services, along with a suspension of new client admissions.”

In the financial year to April, the three nursing homes received grants totalling $1.35 million.

The minister said that for July, the Department of Financial Assistance paid $555,466.74 to nursing homes for 146 seniors.

Ms Furbert said that her department would work with the health ministry “to prepare a revised long-term care strategy to address the issues of sustainable long-term care options”.

She added: “Some long-term solutions may include care insurance, establishing a fund to support long-term care, tax incentives to encourage saving for long-term care and an increase of the Department of Financial Assistance allowance for nursing homes based on tiers of complexities of care.”

In May, The Royal Gazette revealed that the island’s largest care home for seniors, Westmeath Residential and Nursing Home, a private facility on Pitts Bay Road, was struggling with severe financial challenges owing to stringent Covid-19 regulations.