St. Paul’s Rest Home shutting down after more than 50 years in operation

By Michael Boriero - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
St. Paul’s Rest Home shutting down after more than 50 years in operation
St. Paul's Rest Home (Photo : Courtesy)

Years of staffing shortages has finally caught up to the St. Paul’s Rest Home in Bury, Quebec, as the board of directors announced on Wednesday that the long-time staple of the community plans to close its doors for good at the end of March 2021.
Marilyn Findlay Salter, president of St. Paul’s board of directors, said the situation was compounded by the emergence of COVID-19. The pandemic increased the workloads of many healthcare workers in the province. The rest home simply couldn’t keep up, she explained.
“We are able to guarantee [residents] that we will stay open until the end of March to give them time to explore other options, but the staffing situation has been difficult for a number of years and it’s simply becoming more and more difficult,” said Findlay Salter.
In a phone interview with The Record, Findlay Salter lauded the staff members at St. Paul’s for all of their hard work throughout the last few years. One of the problems is that there wasn’t enough depth in staff to cover other workers’ illnesses or injuries.
When asked about the provincial government’s summer orderly program, Findlay Salter applauded the initiative. But as a private non-profit organization, St. Paul’s cannot compete with the salaries offered by the government or the benefits associated with those jobs.
“We cannot afford to offer those wages without raising the amounts we have to charge our residents to levels that would be in some cases beyond their means,” she said.
There are seven employees at the rest home, according to Findlay Salter, a couple of them work part-time and one is a maintenance worker. The home’s manager works on the administrative side and handles floor work as well.
With eight beds occupied at St. Paul’s, and the potential for nine, she said the staff is overworked, which is not lost on any of the residents. They often comment about all of the hours staff members put in at the home, Findlay Salter continued.
She called the whole situation a perfect storm. The pandemic exposed St. Paul’s staffing shortage, forcing the board’s hand because they wanted to avoid the possibility of an emergency closure.
“At that point, we come under the government health services and they will place people, and they will do their very best, but it will have to be done very quickly and that will be distressing for residents,” said Findlay Salter.
The loss of St. Paul’s Rest Home will leave a gaping hole in the community, Findlay Salter lamented. The goal was always to keep the building a friendly and safe environment; the building also managed to remain Covid-free throughout the pandemic.
The staff has always gone above and beyond its mandate, she continued, the community will feel this loss. In a last ditch effort, the board of directors tried to recruit foreign qualified workers. But the process was too complex and the opportunity lacked appeal.
“We are in a small rural community, we do not have public transport so for a number of people coming into the country, that creates a major problem, so that is an additional difficulty that a small community faces,” Findlay Salter said.

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