Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
After 30 years in operation, Meadowbrook Manor, a senior residential care facility located in South Brookfield, Queens County, closed its doors for good March 31.
The 24-hour facility, owned by Brenda Webb, was unable to keep up with the bills.
"Our phone hasn't rung with phone calls from seniors for several months," said Jonathan Roach, Webb's son who helps his mother out at the facility. "And the government will not support us because we are classified as private. They will not work with us."
Only seven of the 11 beds were occupied, while over the past few years the facility has advertised there were one to four bedrooms available.
"We don't know why our beds are empty. We can't understand that, if there is a waiting list for people to go into a nursing home, why is the provincial government not collaborating with Meadowbrook Manor to get some of these people into a home?" Roach asked.
According to Nova Scotia Health, 1,300 seniors in the province are on a waiting list for long-term care beds. The irony of the situation prompted the MLA for Queens-Shelburne, Kim Masland, to bring the issue up in the Legislature March 24.
"Why aren't any of these seniors being placed at Meadowbrook Manor?" she asked the minister of health, Zach Churchill.
Churchill responded by saying, "Meadowbrook Manor would be a private company that is operating that facility." He added that the Health Authority has gone in and assessed the residents for placement in other facilities, and that they are investing significant dollars into long-term care in the province.
Masland responded suggesting the health and welfare of those residents should be priority, to which Churchill replied that the province was working through the process.
According to Roach, until a few years ago hospitals were referring patients to Meadowbrook Manor who didn't fit into the requirements to get into a long-term care home. However, that changed and hospitals were no longer able to refer clients to them, he said.
Brendan Elliott, a spokesman for Nova Scotia Health, confirmed in an email to LighthouseNOW that "Nova Scotia Health does not refer or place clients in private, unlicensed facilities. This has not changed."
He described Meadowbrook's closure as "an unfortunate situation," and said, as soon as it was made aware of it, "Nova Scotia Health provided contact information to the residents and families to connect with us to discuss options in the public health systems."
Elliott noted that private homes are not funded, audited, inspected nor licensed by the Department of Health and Wellness. "Nova Scotia Health does not endorse or recommend them because we have no way to evaluate or monitor the level of care provided or if they meet quality and safety standards," said Elliott.
He added that some district health authorities did provide families with lists of facilities in their area that families could contact to discuss private options, but the authorities did not refer or place clients in these facilities.
Webb has been working with seniors in the area for the past 37 years, 30 of those in her current location. The facility has employed numerous locals over the years; at the time of the business's closing, there were seven full-time care workers and one part-time maintenance person.
"We don't feel bad for ourselves, because self-pity doesn't get you anywhere," said Roach. "We feel really bad for the residents that are being displaced and the wonderful women that worked for mom."
He said the Manor supplied jobs, purchased its goods from local grocery and hardware stores and was supportive of the community.
"Nobody has told us that we are doing anything wrong. Nobody has told us that we were doing anything right," he noted.
The plan is to put the home on the market in the near future, with the hope that whoever takes over will open it up again as a residential care facility.