Too early to consult on continuing care: officials

It's too early to ask Yukoners what they would like to see in a new continuing care facility, according to officials with the Department of Health and Social Services.

It’s too early to ask Yukoners what they would like to see in a new continuing care facility, according to officials with the Department of Health and Social Services.

“It’s way too early in the phase to do public consultation, that happens much further along,” said Paddy Meade, deputy minister of health.

The department has to do its homework first before going out to the community, and that’s what they are doing now, she said.

The Yukon government raised alarm bells last month when it announced it would build a 150-bed continuing care facility in Whitehorse, with the possibility of phasing in another 150 beds.

Both opposition parties raised concern that the government committed to this project before consulting Yukoners.

But the government has completed a needs assessment that found that we will need those beds.

The territory will need 320-380 beds by 2021 and 430-550 beds by 2035, and those are conservative estimates, said Cathy Morton-Bielz, assistant deputy minister for continuing care.

Those projections have been confirmed by a review of the needs assessment, and a contractor to the government is currently working on a business case that will refine that data and start to look at options for design, she said.

It’s important to have the right kind of beds available, because the alternative can be very expensive, she said.

There are currently 26 people on the wait list for a continuing care beds, with another 22 waiting for assessment. The average wait time is four months.

“It’s growing each month,” said Morton-Bielz.

Those waiting for continuing care often end up in the acute care, or hospital, system.

A continuing care bed costs about $350 a day, compared with more than $2,000 for acute care.

Yukoners will have an opportunity to give their input on the design of the new facility, but not until the department has some options to present, said Morton-Bielz.

The department must first look at what the standards and best practices are nationally, to make sure that the facility will meet the needs of clients.

That doesn’t mean that it will look like an institution or warehouse.

“We will certainly not be looking at old-style design, the type with double-loaded corridors and loud, noisy, confusing dining halls,” said Morton-Bielz. “It will be designed to best-practice standards, and those include segregated living units, or neighbourhoods, that are warm, home-like, and easy for residents to navigate and to socialize in.”

Those “neighbourhoods” would typically each house 20-24 clients, she said.

Another concern raised by the NDP Opposition is that centralizing continuing care in Whitehorse will not meet the needs of people from the communities.

But that’s the only way it can be done, said Morton-Bielz. While the intent is to keep people in their homes and communities for as long as possible, people with complex needs will ultimately need to move to a larger centre to get appropriate care.

That’s the same anywhere in Canada, she said.

“Our communities are extremely small and they generate very little need for expensive and specialized services.”

Dawson’s McDonald Lodge, Yukon’s only continuing care facility outside of Whitehorse, offers a lower level of assistance than what can be delivered in the capital. Even today, clients with higher and more complex needs must be moved to the city.

This year’s budget has $6.9 million allocated for planning and design of the facility.

If all goes perfectly smooth, there could be some design options on the table this time next year, said Morton-Bielz.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

adsf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Feb. 26, 2021

A sign indicating a drop-off area behind Selkirk Elementary school in Whitehorse on Feb. 25. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Parking lot proposal for Selkirk Elementary criticized

Parents and school council are raising concerns about green space and traffic woes

Ken Anderson’s Sun and Moon model sculpture sits in the snow as he carves away at the real life sculpture behind Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre for the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous festival in Whitehorse on Feb. 21, 2018. Yukon Rendezvous weekend kicks off today with a series of outdoor, virtual and staged events. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Rendezvous snowpad, live music and fireworks this weekend

A round-up of events taking place for the 2021 Rendezvous weekend

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. The proposed Atlin Hydro Expansion project is moving closer to development with a number of milestones reached by the Tlingit Homeland Energy Limited Partnership and Yukon Energy over the last several months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Atlin hydro project progresses

Officials reflect on milestones reached

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read