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23 Milton seniors given 3-day notice to vacate retirement residence due to roof repairs

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WATCH ABOVE: Twenty-three residents at a Milton retirement residence have been forced to relocate due to emergency roof repairs. One family with a loved one is speaking out saying they weren’t given sufficient notice despite the home knowing about the need for repairs for months. Miranda Anthistle reports – Dec 9, 2020

Twenty-three seniors living at a Milton retirement residence have been forced out of their home with less than a week’s notice just before the holidays and in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Revera, which owns Birkdale Place, attributed the move to emergency roof repairs.

“It was pretty shocking,” said the grandson of a resident, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear extra attention could further compromise his grandparent’s living situation.

“The idea of having to just up and move within a couple days brings a lot of added stress in the context of the pandemic.”

The man said his family is upset and stressed about what the best option will be for their loved one.

All of the fourth-floor residents are being temporarily evicted for a year in order for repairs to be done. On Sunday, they were given a letter stating their suites needed to be vacated by Wednesday. That deadline was subsequently extended to the weekend.

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In a statement to Global News, Revera’s director of communications, Larry Roberts, explained there are no vacant suites at Birkdale Place and that they “recognize that the very short notice residents were given is a serious issue for the residents and their families, and we have apologized to them for it.”

The family Global News spoke with said they understand repairs need to be done, but they said they feel the lack of notice is disrespectful. For its part, Revera admitted they’ve known that repairs were needed for several months.

Read more: What will Ontario’s long-term care system look like post-pandemic?

“We only became aware of the extent of the structural damage and the scope of the required restoration project last month. Since then we have been planning the scope of the project and exploring possible alternate locations for the residents at other Revera retirement living residences,” said Roberts.

The other locations offered for occupancy are in Cambridge, Brampton, and Oakville. The other relocation options include compensation equal to three months of accommodation fees as well as full coverage of moving costs and each resident’s spot will be saved if they decide to return.

All the options are reasonable, said the grandson who wishes to remain anonymous, but it’s the amount of time his family has been given to choose one of them that it feels is unfair.

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“It’s not new information the roof needed some repairs,” he said.

Read more: Visits to Ontario long-term care, retirement homes resume under strict guidelines

“It would have been great if they could have been transparent that’s what needed to happen… instead of waiting right before the holidays and in a pandemic to force people to make a decision.”

Roberts said the engineering reports outlined the potential risk of roof collapse from snow accumulation which led Revera to ask the residents to move for their own safety because they could not risk waiting until January. He said the move out date had to be bumped up after they learned residents relocating had to self-isolate for 14 days.

“We are disappointed at this because Birkdale Place is not in outbreak and none of the alternative residences on offer are in outbreak,” said Roberts.

“To ensure that these residents would not be in isolation during the holidays, they would need to be in their new homes by Friday to complete their self-isolation on Dec. 24.”

Read more: Some Ontario long-term care homes can’t get insurance, could be forced to close: association

The grandson said he wants to make it clear that his grandparent has enjoyed living at Birkdale Place and the staff have always been great. And while the family has been happy with their loved one’s experience at the home, they said they are frustrated with how this matter has been dealt with.

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“If this is how major management issues are being decided at a seniors’ residence then I’m concerned about what’s happening at nursing homes where people have even less agency in decisions being made about their well-being,” he said.

The grandson explained he has spoken up because he’s worried about the other 22 residents not having any support, unlike his grandparent who will be able to stay with his family during the holidays.

The temporary eviction at Birkdale Place comes just two days after Revera released its expert advisory panel’s report revealing the findings of a review into the operator’s experience with COVID-19 between March and September.

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