Staffing hours reduced at Antigonish nursing home

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ANTIGONISH: A local nursing home is dealing with a deficit, which will mean a reduction in staffing hours.

On April 12, Antigonish’s R.K. MacDonald Nursing Home CEO Michelle Thompson issued a press release stating the facility is facing a deficit of $400,000 for the fiscal year that ended on March 31. Thompson said in order to deal with the deficit, the home decided to reduce staffing hours, leave vacancies unfilled in administration, and combine some positions.

When asked how the facility ended up with the deficit, Thompson said the facility added CCA (Continuing Care Assistant) hours in 2015 and it was felt at the time, the nursing home could work it into operations.

“That wasn’t as successful as we had hoped so we ended up being over our funded salary compliment as a result of that,” said Thompson. “The withdrawal of those CCA hours is not actually a direct result of the one per cent reduction we received from the provincial government. In addition to that, we did receive a one per cent reduction and our small equipment budget was reduced as well.”

The facility saw its budget reduced by $140,000 since 2015 due to provincial government cuts. A release from the facility states staffing hours will be reduced in all support service departments and the majority of unfunded CCA hours implemented in 2015 will be removed. The current practice of one caregiver for five to six residents will be changed to one caregiver for six to seven residents in the daytime, which the facility states is within industry standards. Night shift staffing rations will not change and registered nurses and licensed practical nurses will not be impacted.

Thompson said things are tight in terms of finances, adding it was difficult to reduce operations. She said 70 per cent of the home’s budget goes to salaries and 30 per cent is for operations, noting the one per cent reduction was from the whole budget.

“When you have a small wedge of 30 per cent to try and reduce, it limits you and if you can’t reduce your operations, then you have to look at salaries which is what we’ve had to do,” said Thompson. “We’re looking right now at the union pieces of it. There will be some displacement. Our departments are reducing. We’re looking at reducing maintenance, as an example.”

Thompson also listed housekeeping, environmental services and the dietary department as areas which will see reductions.

“We have a senior leadership position that is vacant and we have a retirement so we’ll be combining those positions, so we’ll be reduced by one manager in our facility and also our education consultant will go form a regular position to more of a contract position so they will be project based,” said Thompson. “We’re working really closely with staff and families and residents to be solution focused. We understand that one per cent reduction is not going to be re-established so we have to try and work within our existing resources moving forward.”

A release from the facility states the R.K. MacDonald Nursing Home cares for 136 residents and has a staffing complement of 250 people.