I am happy to hear that the residents at the Sherwood Care Home are getting a much needed upgrade to their living quarters. The Sherwood Care Home has deteriorated to a point that it no longer meets building code standards.
To make this move, it means the Prince Edward Home has lost 12 restorative care beds. These beds were refurbished to become long-term care beds to house Sherwood Home residents. Health PEI was forced to remove restorative care beds because this government has refused to invest in public long-term care infrastructure. This is of grave concern to me. I have spoken to so many seniors regarding the lack of care beds already, and it appears that things are only going to get worse.
Why does this matter? What importance do restorative care beds play in our healthcare system? Restorative care beds house patients who no longer need hospital services, but are not quite ready to return home. These patients are also known as Alternate Level of Care (ALC) patients.
For example, restorative care beds are used after a surgery or a fall when a patient still needs to heal and receive therapy but doesn’t need the acute services that a hospital bed provides. When restorative care beds are not available, those patients end up staying in hospital.
Financially, it costs significantly more to operate a hospital bed than a restorative care bed. Living in a hospital for months on end is also not a good quality of life for ALC patients. We are, unfortunately, the number one province in Canada when it comes to keeping patients in hospitals when they would be better served in community or long-term care settings. This is not a title we should be proud of.
Over the past two years, the Official Opposition has included funding to create more restorative care beds on PEI in its 2020 and 2021 budget requests. The King government has ignored this request and is choosing to provide no additional funding for public beds.
It is no wonder we are seeing hospital wait times increase. Furthermore, if hospital beds are full of patients who could be better cared for in restorative units, that trickles all the way down to the ER where patients are laying on stretchers in hallways or in ambulances for hours waiting for a bed. This also means paramedics are standing in hallways with patients waiting for beds for hours on end, surgery wait times are increasing, and staff are burning out.
The King government has a responsibility to invest in services. The staff of Sherwood Home have done an incredible job of caring for the residents. They did all they could do. Despite their stellar efforts, the King government is choosing to force Health PEI and its staff to either remove long-term care beds or remove restorative care beds from our system. A budget speaks to government’s true priorities. It is quite evident people are not a priority for the King government.
The Official Opposition Green caucus will continue to advocate for more funding to be put towards these important services. It is time for the King government to truly prioritize our seniors, our medical professionals, and all Islanders in need of medical care.
Michele Beaton, MLA Mermaid-Stratford
Official Opposition Critic for Health and Wellness