Oshawa’s retirement homes are not ready for baby boomers

Photo by Shanelle Somers

As the elderly population climbs in Ontario, a crisis is emerging in Oshawa, according to those who work in the retirement living industry.

Ontario retirement and long-term care homes are seeing a greater need for more beds and care services for seniors.

By 2025, almost a third of the population will be elderly within Durham Region, says Michelle Manson, general manager of the Wynfield Retirement Residence. In Oshawa, many retirement and long-term care homes are at full occupancy with long waiting lists.

“The people that are coming to retirement are getting older and older and their care needs are becoming more complex,” says Manson. “There’s not a lot of really independent residents anymore. I’m seeing that in the industry as a whole, retirement is having to change our approach and offer more care and support.”

She says within the next five years Ontario will need more than 100,000 new beds in retirement homes. Sharol Henry, administer of the Wynfield Long-Term Care Residence, says waiting lists today are usually two to five years long.

The industry is seeing more people in need of 24/7 care and wanting to be involved in an active environment. Retirement homes in Oshawa rely on Community Care Access Centres (CCAC) to assist with the growing complex care needs

Care and support needs are often arranged by CCAC. They arrange government-funded services for seniors living at home as well as those living in retirement and long-term care homes.

They give support to the elderly through nursing, physiotherapy, healthy eating, personal care, homemaking, and end-of-life-care. In conversation with families, CCAC decides who receives care, the level of care received and how long care is received for.

However, CCAC says it needs more support. Personal support worker Nancy Jones of Bowmanville says sometimes the time given to provide care for an elderly person is not enough.

“Fifteen minutes is not a lot of time for somebody, an hour sometimes is not enough. Sometimes an hour can be too much for somebody who doesn’t really need us but want us there for companionship,” says Jones.

According to Samantha Petralito, resident services manager of the Wynfield Retirement Residence, care services are the number one need for the elderly and without them safety becomes an issue. She says there is a need for a smoother transition into long-term care, as well as government funding for privately owned retirement homes.

“We could have more nurses in the building, more hours for CCAC. We need more long-term care beds, so the residents that are no longer safe in retirement have somewhere to go,” says Petralito.

Henry says long-term care residences also see the need for more support to suit the needs of residents. She says more people are dealing with dementia now, and it’s often a more aggressive form.

“The staffing that we have is not enough to address enough of the concerns we have,” says Henry.

With 29 per cent of the population expected to be elderly by 2025, Manson says the provincial government needs to make changes. Currently, retirement industry leaders are working with the government to start these changes by promoting more affordable care for seniors.




Previous articleBetter time management leads to better life
Next articleCompany copyright serious but not cruel
Shanelle is a second-year journalism student at Durham College. She is passionate about writing and telling stories. She enjoys the daily news, music, travel and creating multi-media content. In her spare time she works at a local retirement residence and volunteers within the community.