Br. Tom Cavanaugh says Oblates in long-term care were not happy with the decision to move them to public facilities, but they knew the move was inevitable.

WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ

Br. Tom Cavanaugh says Oblates in long-term care were not happy with the decision to move them to public facilities, but they knew the move was inevitable.

October 20, 2014
RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Some elderly residents at Foyer Lacombe, the Oblate Fathers retirement home in St. Albert, will soon have to move out as the order has decided to shut down part of the residence.

Dwindling membership and the high cost of private health care are cited as reasons for the decision to close New Foyer, the wing that houses residents requiring nursing care.

The other wing of the residence, known as First Foyer, will continue to house 16 to 19 independent living residents.

"We are getting out of the long-term care business; we are not getting out of the business of caring for our Oblates," said Rob Meilleur, chief administrative officer for the Oblates in Canada.

Meilleur said low occupancy started the discussion about the future of the residence about two years ago.

"If you know anything about care facilities, it's almost impossible to have such a costly infrastructure for so few men," he said from Ottawa. "It's too costly. We can't afford to keep our men in there."

Twenty-five out of more than 40 beds are currently occupied at Foyer Lacombe, whose residents range in age from 71 to 98. In addition to Oblate priests and brothers, there are also diocesan priests and lay people who live at the facility.

Cecile Marion, administrator of Foyer Lacombe, said the facility has been providing supported living and assisted living to its residents since it was built.

However, the facility stopped providing long-term care over a year ago because the Oblates' pension plan could not afford to provide that level of care.

SIX RESIDENTS AFFECTED

With the closing of New Foyer, "anybody that requires supported living services will have to move," Marion said, adding the decision will affect about six residents.

"(However) we made arrangement with Alberta Heath Services and those fellows will most likely move together as a community to St. Thomas (a supported living facility in the Bonnie Doon area)," she said.

Oblate Brother Tom Cavanaugh, director of the Oblate Community at Foyer Lacombe, said residents were aware of the process.

"I don't think they are happy about it. I would say they accepted it because they knew it was inevitable," he told the WCR. "They knew it had to happen."

OBLATES STILL CARE

Cavanaugh said even though the residents are going to a public facility, the Oblates will still care for them.

"They are not going to be thrown out without any consideration; the Oblates are still responsible for their care and they are still supporting them financially to go into these other places."

Caring for a resident who needs supported living costs from $250 to $300 a day at Foyer Lacombe. In a public facility, that cost would be cut in half.

"That's why it's so much cheaper just to go into a public facility where you are just paying the basic service charges," Cavanaugh said.

According to Marion, in a public facility the resident pays for room and board. "The nursing care is paid for by the Alberta government."

No decision has yet been made regarding future use of the closed wing. The Oblates are currently discussing that question with several organizations.

Although some of the jobs at Foyer Lacombe will be maintained, about 20 people will lose their positions.