New specialized long-term care unit for dementia patients coming to Lakeridge Gardens in Ajax


Published October 28, 2022 at 5:17 pm

A new specialized long-term care unit is coming to the Lakeridge Gardens facility in Ajax with the goal to provide for the “unique care needs” of residents with dementia and similar health challenges.

The Ontario government announced today that they were putting nearly $6 million toward four Behavioural Specialized Units (BSU) in Ajax and Penetang with two going to Scarborough.

The aim of the BSU is to provide more specialized care in an environment more comfortable than a hospital. Altogether the units will run the government $5.9 million for 79 beds.

These funds break down as:

  • $1.12 million for 16 beds in Lakeridge Gardens Ajax, operated by Lakeridge Health
  • $1.03 million for 16 beds at Georgian Manor Home for the Aged in Penetanguishene, operated by Simcoe County
  • $1.55 million for 15 beds at Bendale Acres in Scarborough, operated by the City of Toronto, and
  • $2.21 million for 32 beds for Extendicare Rouge Valley in Scarborough, operated by Extendicare

Unusually for the Ford government, most of these homes are owned by their respective communities. These funds form part of the Fixing Long-term Care Act which has so far contributed $3.7 billion to LTC for a targeted 30,000 new beds across Ontario.

However, the Act has been widely criticized for its embrace of for-profit facilities over publicly owned LTC homes. Numerous studies indicate private homes have significantly worse health outcomes and five-time higher death rates.

“Our government is expanding the number of specialized beds at long-term care homes so residents who have unique care needs for conditions like dementia can get the care they deserve while avoiding unnecessary hospitalization,” said Paul Calandra, Minister of Long-Term Care. “This is one more way we are taking action to ensure Ontarians have access to more connected, convenient care, while reducing capacity pressures in our hospitals.”

These units within long-term care homes specialize in care for individuals with complex behaviours like dementia by providing increased staffing, a tailored environment, focused behavioural assessment and enhanced care planning.

People with complex behaviours like dementia are often more difficult to place in long-term care homes because of the specialized care required to support them. Expanding the number of BSU beds helps increase the number of complex Alternate Level of Care hospital patients and community members who can get the care they need in long-term care homes and avoid hospitalization.

Sharon Navarro at Lakeridge Health described the units as “extra support” for residents with dementia and their family members.

“For residents of Lakeridge Gardens, living with dementia or those in the community who require services for complex needs, the new BSUs will help to ensure they receive the highest quality and safest care in the comfort of their own home … and go a long way in preventing unnecessary hospital visits,” she said. “For family members of residents, knowing their loved one has access to these vital services and supports provides great peace of mind.”

Navarro said Lakeridge Health anticipates opening the unit in the spring of 2024.

‘Specialized Units’ provide long-term care home residents with accommodation, care, services, programs and goods, and are designated under the Fixing Long-Term Care Act.  The designation of Specialized Unit provides Ontario Health with the flexibility to address the needs of specialized populations whose needs cannot otherwise be met.

The government’s transformation of health and long-term care is part of the Plan to Stay Open: Health System Stability and Recovery, and aims to provide a more stable and better-connected health care system for Ontarians, while keeping the province and economy open.

The four new BSUs with 79 specialized beds build on the government’s previous investment of 62 specialized beds in three existing BSUs at other locations throughout the province, bringing the total to 16 Behavioural Specialized Units with 322 beds at long-term care homes provincewide, including Lakeridge Gardens in Ajax and Fairview Lodge in Whitby.

Other locations are at Cooksville Care Centre (Mississauga) and Linhaven (St. Catharines), as well as the newly announced units at Georgian Manor (Penetanguishene), Bendale Acres (Scarborough) and Extendicare Rouge Valley (Scarborough). There are also nine BSUs funded through Ontario Health.

The province is also investing $37 million in 2022-23, and additional funding annually moving forward, to expand access to a range of specialized services and supports to help people with complex needs such as bariatric, behavioural and dialysis. The aim is for people to receive the right care in the right place and help reduce unnecessary hospitalization. The investment includes $20 million this year for a new Long-Term Care Local Priorities Fund to be administered by Ontario Health, an additional $5 million this year for Behavioural Supports Ontario (BSO), $2.6 million this year for the Baycrest Virtual Behaviour Medicine program, and $4.5 million in one-time funding for a new, 56-unit, mixed-market seniors’ housing complex in Kenora.

With files from Glenn Hendry


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