ESTEVAN - The replacement for the new Estevan Regional Nursing Home is expected to be much bigger than the committee initially planned.
Members of the new Estevan Regional Nursing Home committee met May 24 with representatives of the provincial government, including representatives of the Saskatchewan Health Authority and Saskatchewan Builds and Procurement. At the time, the province provided details of the updated needs assessment.
The document identified a future need for 59 additional long-term care beds for the Estevan area. This is expected to bring the total number of beds in the community to 167 from the current 108.
Don Kindopp, who is the chairman of the new nursing home committee, said it was a very positive gathering, and he was pleased and "somewhat surprised" at the document's findings.
"The needs assessment looked at current and future demographics of the community surrounding Estevan, and it also went further and looked at some of the clinical needs of our clients," said Kindopp.
It studied the bariatric needs of residents, respite and care needs, and even the adult day program at the hospital.
"There was an addition of looking at or being aware of possible future spaces that we might need, and in my mind, that means taking in the diversity of our community and what needs we would have in terms of beds and structures to meet those diverse needs," said Kindopp.
Kindopp said the committee expected there would have to be a discussion on keeping the number of beds in the community at a stable level, between a new nursing home and the hospital's long-term care facility, so the committee was "pleasantly surprised" with the findings of the needs assessment.
Estevan MLA Lori Carr, who is the minister for SaskBuilds and Procurement, said the need for the additional 59 beds stems from an aging population.
"We do need to build for the needs of our community and surrounding area, and one of the things that they look at is the demographic of age, and the people that are turning 75 and older in the next few years is really, really high, and I think I would attribute that to the baby boomers," said Carr.
Carr pointed out the needs analysis usually comes in pretty close to what the final number of beds would be.
There are several other long-term care facilities in the region as well. If the local need isn't as high in the future, and they have some facilities that have reached their life expectancy, then they will have more long-term care residents from outside of the community living in Estevan.
The MLA said the facility will cost more because of its greater size. The community will still be responsible for 20 per cent of the costs.
But she stressed the facility wouldn't be delayed while fundraising occurs in the community for the additional cost.
"There's nothing saying the fundraising campaign can't still be happening while construction is taking place," said Carr.
The new nursing home committee has about $8.8 million available for the construction of a new nursing home, Kindopp said. The vast majority of the funds came in during the Hearthstone Community Campaign fundraising initiative that ran from the spring of 2011 to early 2015. It was tasked with raising $8 million, or 20 per cent of the projected $40 million cost of a new nursing home. Hearthstone reached its goal in less than four years and the campaign was wound down.
Since early 2015, some donations have continued to roll in for the new nursing home.
"The project will go ahead, and we'll do everything we can to ensure that we meet any obligations that are placed upon us," said Kindopp.
Carr reasoned that the previous fundraising took place with the hope that Estevan would be getting a new nursing home. The provincial government announced two years ago that it would proceed with a new nursing home in Estevan, and committed $1 million to the project this year. She believes the recent progress should help attract new donors.
A date for the start of construction could be announced in the next year or two, she said.
"The committee will have the opportunity to have a say as to what the facility looks like, such as with common areas. One of the questions that was asked was whether there would be rooms for couples, because some people can't stay home alone."
Carr said there would be rooms designed for couples.
The next step is a business case that will be developed to validate the number of beds, based on the cost estimates and other parameters. It will also determine the location of the facility. Kindopp said they are looking at two options. One is a site located on the hospital grounds, and the other is across Sister Roddy Road from the hospital.
"They have to do geotechnical and traffic studies and all of that kind of stuff," said Carr. "Is there enough parking? Is there enough space if we put it at the hospital, because, of course, the facility that we're talking about here is much larger than the original, envisioned facility that was being thought about at one point in time."
The business case will finalize the number of beds and will determine the number of floors, too.
Kindopp said the committee will wait for the business case to be completed before resuming fundraising initiatives.
"It would make sense to me that because we're adding more beds … the cost would go up," said Kindopp. "It's been some time since we raised our money, and inflation and construction costs … probably have risen, and we'll have to look at what the needs will be or what we'd need to do to meet the costs."
Carr pointed out the new nursing home would require a lot of staff to care for the residents, and the number of employees will be even greater for an expanded facility.
The business case is expected to be completed in the fall. Kindopp said the two sides are expected to meet again in a few months. Once the business case is completed, some pre-design will occur on the long-awaited facility.