A brand new Village Green long-term care home should open in Napanee in the next two years.
Construction has begun on a facility that reimagines the current Village Green long-term care residence in the quiet farming hamlet of Selby as a state-of-the-art 128-bed long-term care home closer to Napanee.
The redevelopment of Village Green is expected to be completed and its first residents welcomed in spring 2025, according to Paul Calandra, provincial Minister of Long-Term Care, who was present for the ceremonial groundbreaking in Napanee on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023.
The current 66-bed facility in Selby is 45 years old and unable to keep up with the growing demand for beds and care. The new 128-bed home will be built at a different location, on Drive-In Road in Greater Napanee, and will provide 62 new and 66 upgraded beds in private and basic rooms.
The new home will also feature design improvements, including larger resident common areas and air conditioning throughout the home. The design is centred on ‘resident home areas’ that will create more intimate and familiar living spaces for up to 32 residents each, with dining and activity areas, lounges, and bedrooms.
“Congratulations to Village Green on their groundbreaking for an upgraded, modernized home. Our government is fixing long-term care, and a key part of that plan is building modern, safe, and comfortable homes for our seniors,” said Calandra. “Today marks a significant milestone, and when construction is completed, 128 residents will have a new place to call home, near their family and friends.”
The new Village Green is one of two such projects in Greater Napanee. Lennox and Addington County General Hospital is the site of another long-term care home construction project. Together, these two projects will provide 190 new and 66 upgraded long-term care beds, for a total of 256 beds built to modern design standards, according to the province.
Greater Napanee’s Mayor, Terry Richardson, called the project “extremely exciting” and acknowledged the significant contribution of Michael Nobes, Director of Development Services at the Town of Greater Napanee. “We, as politicians, can take the credit for it, but it’s really our staff and people like Mr. Nobes and his staff that can make these things happen… I have 100 per cent faith in him and his crew, and I think that’s important for us to get things done.”
Nobes modestly pointed out that the land in question was already zoned for this use, and the servicing on the road has recently been upgraded, “So it was really a pretty straightforward site plan review from our side of things.”
“To have a facility like this is obviously an investment in our community… and a continued investment in our community [by] our partners in the provincial government, as well… They believe in us,” stated Richardson, “and I agree that we have to try and get rid of all the obstacles because there are exciting times coming… and we want to keep that ball rolling. So this is, I’m hoping, one of many that we will be able to celebrate in the not-too-distant future.”
The “obstacles” Richardson referred to came from an earlier question by Kingstonist to Minister Calandra, who has stated in repeated news conferences, as he did again today, that “there are a number of communities across this province that have not done what [Napanee has] done. They have not removed the obstacles that have allowed us to build long-term care, and I want to tell all of those communities very clearly: take the example of this mayor.”
“I want to be very, very clear to our municipal partners,” Calandra reiterated, his tone growing increasingly stern, “you will either work with us or we will remove you as an obstacle.”
Asked by Kingstonist to clarify just what obstacles there have been to building long-term care (LTC) homes, the minister cited two specific examples of LTC homes that are scheduled to be built in Port Hope and Pickering.
“In Pickering,” said Calandra, “there is an old, outdated home that should have been replaced many, many years ago… We provided ministerial zoning orders to unleash at least the building process on our end, and we’re running into obstacles with respect to site plans,… demolition permits, building permits. Every step of the way, the municipalities put an obstacle in the way of getting a shovel in the ground.”
“Orchard Villa in Pickering,” Calandra specified, “That should have been torn down 10 years ago. Even before that. And somehow the council has decided they don’t want to move forward with the brand new, state-of-the-art long-term care.”
Calandra was asked what the impetus was for these hold-ups, since they seemed counterintuitive. The minister “absolutely” agreed, saying, “It is counterintuitive. We know that we want to build long-term care. I can only assume that they want to have long-term care in their community. And I don’t understand what the delay or the backlog would be, frankly, and it is unacceptable because… you have other communities that will beg and say, ‘If they don’t want it, bring it to [us], we will build it.’ And that’s what we’re seeing here in communities like this.”
What Calandra didn’t say is that some communities are not necessarily opposed to LTC beds per se, but they have voiced concerns that his government is continuing to reward for-profit long-term care providers, like the one that owns and operates Orchard Villa in Pickering: Southbridge Care Homes.
As evidenced by a cursory survey of local reports from the Durham Region, when councillors rejected a request for a minister’s zoning order (MZO), that request came from Southbridge Care Homes.
Over 80 residents died at Orchard Villa in the first wave of the pandemic, and a report by the Canadian military’s Joint Task Force (Central), which was called in as an emergency measure to provide Augmented Civilian Care, painted a grim picture of the care Southbridge was providing. The report notes that a lack of infection control and basic cleanliness was observed at Orchard Villa. Cockroaches, flies, and rotting food trays left in piles were observed.
Worse yet, patients were left in beds soiled in diapers, rather than being ambulated to toilets. Patient mouth care and hydration schedules were not being adhered to, and patients were left to feed themselves, often without being placed in upright safe positions. One observation was of an incident that appeared to have contributed to a patient’s death: “Code blue due to choking during feeding while supine,” it reads. “Staff unable to dislodge food or revive resident.”
Further notes observe that “Respecting dignity of patients not always a priority” at the Southbridge-operated home.
It should be noted that Village Green in Napanee will continue to be operated by Omni Quality Living (a different for-profit company than the one that owns Orchard Villa).
Raheem Hirji, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Omni Quality Living, said, “We are thrilled to be working with the Ontario government to address the demands for long-term care in our community. Driving change to meet stronger needs for exceptional care and quality living aligns closely with our mission and values. We look forward to welcoming our new residents home.”
Hirji recognized especially the contributions of local staff at Village Green who have worked diligently to get a better facility and contribute positively to patient care and the community, calling them “an experienced and passionate team.”
He singled out Linda Pierce, Village Green’s administrator, calling her a leader at Omni and in the community, who “exemplifies Omni’s values of integrity, compassion, inclusiveness, curiosity, and resilience.” Pierce has worked at Village Green for 35 years.
Hastings-Lennox and Addington MPP Ric Bresee, in an interview after the groundbreaking, pointed out, “We use the term ‘long-term care’ all the time. And then occasionally we say ‘long-term care facility.’ But the most important word is that it’s a long-term care home. This is where these people live, in many cases their final years… It is their home, and Greater Napanee is their home. They have family here; they have friends here. That continued engagement makes for a better quality of life and in many cases makes for a longer life for those residents, who deserve to have the best place to live in those years.”