Avalon Care Centre coping with ‘skyrocketing’ dementia cases

March 2, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

With the average life expectancy increasing, Canada has more senior citizens than ever before, and along with this increase  comes a need for improvements in long-term care facilities.

In areas with a growing population like Orangeville, this means more people than ever put pressure on those facilities to keep up with a growing demand for available spaces and services.

The Ontario Long Term Care Association is making the Better Senior Care Campaign a priority for 2018 through a letter-writing campaign to the provincial government for consideration in the 2018 provincial budget. The Campaign’s aim is to improve long-term care by ensuring they have the resources they need to support residents.

“There are four priorities. We want to make sure that long-term care doesn’t get put on the back burner,” explained Dawn Rollins, resident and family services coordinator at Orangeville’s Avalon Care Centre.

The priorities in the current campaign include more care with more staff, better care with behavioural supports in every home, more care with more beds, and better care by modernizing long-term care homes.

Ms. Rollins said past success includes bringing people with special qualifications to the Centre when the need was apparent, but there is still a need for more support.

“Up until four or five years ago they didn’t have Behavioural Support Ontario (BSO) in long-term care homes. For anyone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, which is a huge population in long-term care, they have different responsive behaviours because they have cognitive impairment. Up until not so long ago, we had no support for that. Now the government is seeing that we need more support. Now we have one BSO in our home who helps.”

The Campaign also addresses the need for an increase in available beds and includes the need for more homes to be built to accommodate a growing senior population.

Avalon is 35 years old and has 137 beds. However, over the past three decades the local population has increased and by last year the wait list has increased from an initial three to six months, to between one and three years. And as the baby boomer generation ages, the need for new beds is predicted to grow exponentially.

The wait times have produced a ‘crisis situation’ when it comes to bed shortages.

With an increase in residents in long-term care, the need for qualified staff also increases.

“Now with some programs allowing people to stay at home longer, when they come to long-term care their care needs and health conditions are much more complex,” explained Avalon administrator Jodi Napper-Campbell. “The care is more complex. We have more people with dementia – that has skyrocketed over the past few years.

Campaign e-mails submitted locally are directed to the office of Sylvia Jones, MPP for Dufferin-Caledon.

Ms. Jones’ office issued a press release on February 27 detailing her statement during question period at Queen’s Park calling on the Minister of Health and Long Term care to address the failure to provide adequate long term care for Ontario’s seniors.

She cited an example of a constituent from Belfountain who was forced to go to London – a three-hour drive away – to find long-term care placement.

You can be part of the write-in campaign by visiting on-line at and submitting an e-mail with your concerns.


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