By Jessica Lovell
The city is looking to its aging population to help come up with a plan for how it provides long-term care.
“We know of course, through our Older Adult Strategy, that we are going to have more and more older adults,” said general manager of community engagement Barb Powell.
It is these older adults that are being taken into consideration under the city’s long-term-care project exploring the municipality’s options for meeting its legislative requirements to provide a long-term-care home. But any member of the public is being invited to take part in a forum on long-term-care home services taking place Jan. 29 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Evergreen Seniors Community Centre.
“Every municipality in Ontario has to have a long-term-care home,” said Powell of the legislative requirement.
Guelph’s happens to be in Fergus.
Powell couldn’t say why, but explained that when the provincial legislation came into effect around 20 years ago, Guelph was in the minority among Ontario municipalities in that it was not maintaining its own long-term-care home. But the city had options. Under the legislation, it could either pay another existing non-profit provider to provide care, or jointly own and operate a home with another municipality.
Guelph funds care at Wellington Terrace, the long-term-care home owned and operated by Wellington County in Fergus.
A change might be in the works, but it’s still too early in the project to know what that change might look like.
“We are just at the beginning stages of this,” Powell said.
The public forum is part of the early stages. Its goal is to find out what the public thinks the city’s role should be in providing long-term care, she said.
“We really want to hear from people what they value in long-term care,” she said.
The city has hired a consulting group that will also be drawing input from community partners, local health-care providers and service providers, as well as Wellington County and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
“It’s a very complex and heavily regulated sector,” said Powell.
She noted that just because Guelph is mandated to provide long-term care doesn’t necessarily mean Guelph residents will access that local care.
When it’s determined that a person needs the kind of around-the-clock care that a long-term-care home provides, it is the Community Care Access Centre that places that person in care.
Only about 45 per cent of Guelph residents going into long-term care actually remain in Guelph, said Powell. She suggested the low number might be at least partly due to the fact that people ask to be placed in care nearer to their loved ones, many of whom may live in other cities or municipalities.
But when it comes to the care that the city is funding, “there is a view that people want something to be here in the city,” said Powell.
Other feedback that might be expected at the forum could include discussion about providing care that allows residents to stay in their homes and remain independent longer, and the kind of long-term-care environment sometimes described as “a campus of care,” said Powell.
The latter would involve various care services, perhaps not all government funded, located in close proximity to one another, she explained.
Those who are not able to attend the Jan. 29 public forum are invited to provide feedback through an online survey at guelph.ca/longtermcare. The survey will be available from Jan. 31 to Feb. 20. To register for the forum or to get a print copy of the survey, contact Beth Bergevin at 519-822-1260, ext. 2042.
Feedback gathered from the forum and survey will be presented during a special city council workshop on Feb. 26.