Kimberley Tuerlings is desperate to bring her dad home.
For the last few months the Williams Lake mother has been travelling to Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops as frequently as once a week to care for her dad while he awaits a residential care placement.
Fifty-two-year-old Johannes Tuerlings suffered a brain aneurysm in Oct. 2010. He lived in Spences Bridge at the time and was transferred to RIH for emergency surgery.
In the span of seven months Tuerlings has undergone five brain surgeries and was recently designated a long-term care patient. He now sits in a hospital bed in Kamloops waiting for a residential care bed to become available.
The family desperately hopes that bed will be in WIlliams Lake as it is the community Tuerlings called home for 20 years and has family who can provide love, support and assistance.
Kimberley says the Interior Health Authority has told her that her dad will likely be destined for Deni House when it opens this fall but in the meantime he will remain in the Kamloops hospital or be transferred to an interim facility.
Of particular concern to Tuerlings is the time her father and other long-term care patients have to wait. She says the family was initially seeking a government-funded bed at Williams Lake Seniors Village because it was the only facility available (the health authority had announced in November 2010 the re-opening of Deni House). Tuerlings says she was told by staff in Kamloops that the wait time in Williams Lake for residential care beds was three years.
“Even with Deni House opening there will still be people on the wait list,” Tuerlings adds.
Deborah Smith, residential health service administrator for Interior Health West, is surprised that the wait time was expressed in years and says it’s not typically defined that way.
“Honestly, I can’t tell you how long people would wait for a placement,” she says of individuals on a waiting list. “It’s complex and depends on quite a number of things.”
According to the IHA, there are currently 25 individuals awaiting placement to residential care beds in Williams Lake. The majority of those patients are seeking government-funded beds.
As for the stock of funded residential care beds in Williams Lake, there are 134 at Williams Lake Seniors Village and 28 — nine of which will be designated short-stay for respite and convalescent — coming on line at Deni House.
Retirement Concepts, the company that owns the seniors village, does not provide non-funded residential care beds in the community due to the prohibitive daily rate for supplying that service.
The cost of a private residential care bed varies depending on the community but it is estimated to be approximately $180 to $190 per day.
“It’s a fairly expensive proposition from the private pay perspective,” says Tony Baena, Retirement Concepts vice-president of operations.
Baena says the company had considered converting some of its assisted living beds to residential care beds. However, that required a “considerable” capital outlay; he also cited difficulty with the building’s layout.
But he noted if the health authority expressed an interest in providing more funded beds, Retirement Concepts could comply.
“We do have additional land close to the facility and we always indicated if the demand was there and the health authority was interested in looking at additional beds in the community we would look at trying to build or convert the assisted living beds.”
In total, there are 57 more funded residential care beds in the community than in 2001.
The decision to reopen Deni House was the result of demand, Smith says.
“We certainly do recognize the demand and of course that is why we are opening the beds that we are in the fall …,” she says, adding that the IHA expects those beds to sustain the community for “a while.”
For those who are on the wait list Smith says home care such as community nurses, home support workers, respite care and adult-day services are offered to assist those individuals.
Tuerlings has spoken to Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett about her concerns. Barnett told the Tribune that Tuerlings’ is the only individual she’s heard from with concerns over wait times for residential care.
“I haven’t had other people come knocking on my door,” she says. “I know once we get the 28 beds open at Deni House we’ll alleviate a lot of the problem that people have said is out there.”
The Liberal government, says Barnett, has focussed on providing more home care but also providing residential care beds throughout the province.
Barnett is not aware of plans to create more funded residential beds in Williams Lake.