At 102 years old, Ruby Reichheld is among 20 residents of Anson Place retirement home that will have to find a new place to live when that section of the Hagersville facility ceases operations. Photo submitted by the Reichheld family

At 102 years old, Ruby Reichheld will soon have to find a new place to live.

Reichheld moved into the retirement home at Anson Place Care Centre in Hagersville five years ago.

The centenarian will be on the move again this fall, after she and 19 other residents were told they have to vacate their rooms by September because the company is shutting down the 41-bed retirement home on the main floor.

Reichheld’s son, Rob Ferguson, said the news came “out of the blue” during a May 4 meeting for residents and caregivers chaired by Linda Calabrese, senior vice-president of operations with Responsive Management Inc., whose subsidiary, Rykka Care Homes, operates Anson Place.

Attendees had no inkling of what they were about to learn and not everyone had family members there, said Ferguson.

“So some of these residents, in their senior years, faced this information on their own,” he said.

“They were told there was no money to be made on the retirement floor — (the company) couldn’t make money at the rates they were charging.”

The long-term care facility on the second floor, with a capacity for 61 residents, is to remain open, said Nicola Major, vice-president of communications with Responsive Group Inc. 

“After conducting a thorough review of the long-term viability of Anson Place’s retirement operations, we came to the difficult decision to close the retirement section of the home,” Major said in an email to The Spectator.

“The 20 retirement residents, their families and our team members were informed late last week, and we anticipate the retirement operations will wind down in early September.”

Ferguson was surprised when no written notice of the change followed the meeting, especially as he is his mother’s power of attorney.

“This is quite a stressful situation for my mother and other residents like her,” Ferguson wrote in an email to Calabrese, who assured him residents would be helped through the change.

“We understand how upsetting this is for all,” Calabrese wrote.

“The plan is to meet with residents one on one to give them the necessary information and assistance.” 

Major told The Spectator no residents will be evicted before finding a new place to live.

“Our priority is to ensure every resident finds a new home, and we have a team of people who will be working closely with residents and their families,” Major said.

“It is important to note that the transition process for the residents to a new home will take precedence over any specific timeline.”

Compounding the challenge for current Anson Place residents is the dearth of retirement home spaces locally. Leisure Living Retirement Home in Jarvis recently sent a representative to Anson Place to make a presentation to residents.

Ferguson said his mother was “stoical” upon learning she would have to move.

She is already on the waiting list to move to the long-term care floor at Anson Place, but Ferguson said the family had not counted on having to convince her of the necessity quite yet.

“I take her out for breakfast. We go for walks. She dresses herself, makes her own bed. Pretty good for 102,” Ferguson said, adding his mother is “of sound mind and takes care of herself except for baths and meals.”

“She’s doing remarkably well on her own, and we’d rather keep it that way for her as long as possible,” he said.

Ferguson is frustrated that Anson Place received provincial funding last year — $401,000 to hire more staff, with plans announced in April 2022 for 68 new and 60 upgraded beds — only to turn around and close the retirement home.

It is unclear how the retirement home floor will be used once all residents have moved out. Ferguson had heard a rumour the company was going to convert the single rooms into double-occupancy long-term care rooms, but Major said that is not the case.

“There are no plans to redevelop or convert the retirement home area,” she said.

Anson Place executive director Lisa Roth was not available for comment.

Anson Place became nationally known in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when an outbreak of the virus inside the facility killed 27 residents in less than a month.

Reichheld tested positive during the outbreak, but recovered.

Now her son worries that moving out of her “perfect” single room into long-term care could prematurely hasten her decline.

“Because she’s going to have to share with someone else that may need a lot more support, in a room that’s maybe no bigger than the one she has now,” Ferguson said.

“It is a disruption, quite a bit, and might accelerate her passing.”

By J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 11, 2023 at 13:18

This item reprinted with permission from   The Spectator   Hamilton, Ontario
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