Issue 2.29 – Rumours and Cutbacks

“What is this? Chicken month?” Charlie let out a long sigh as he stared at the information monitor by the elevator. “There are some weeks here where we are eating chicken almost every day! Look at them sneaking it into soups and salads even. We have one night where they’re serving prime rib! They’re cheaping out on us Hazel!” Hazel squinted at the menu calendar on the screen. “I don’t know what you’re complaining about Charlie, you like chicken.” Charlie muttered something under his breath, making sure Hazel couldn’t quite hear. She just rolled her eyes at him.

“It’s not just the food they’re cheaping out on. Did you hear they’ve cancelled yoga classes indefinitely?” Ruby piped up as she sat in her favourite chair by the elevators, which had the best view of everything on the main level. “No, I hadn’t,” Hazel answered back with a skeptical look. “They just brought in extra classes a few weeks ago…that doesn’t seem right at all.” “Well, looks like we’re all costing this place too much money, so they’re cutting us off. Party’s over!” Ruby ‘harrumphed’ and took some knitting out of her bag.

As Charlie and Hazel made their way up to their room, they both wondered what was going on. Surely Ruby was blowing things out of proportion. “We pay a decent amount of money each month to live here. Do you really think it’s not enough?” Charlie wondered aloud. “Like anything, Charlie, costs go up,” Hazel said matter-of-factly as she made her way into the kitchen to prepare a snack. “Will they raise our rent then? Surely we can’t just eat chicken and stare at walls for the rest of our lives.” Hazel could hear the frustration growing in Charlie’s voice. “I doubt very much they’ll raise rent. These places hate doing that. They won’t place these hard economic times on the backs of us seniors. Where are we going to get the money from? It’s not like we are working anymore. Some of us are living entirely on our savings.” Charlie nodded. “We’re lucky to have our pensions for sure.” Hazel continued, “I don’t think we have much to worry about. If they started raising rents in buildings like this, the papers would be all over it. I think it’s just going to be a matter of living with a few less luxuries for a while.”

Charlie took a seat. Cleo leapt into his lap to snuggle, but he still felt grumbly. “I don’t think that’s fair though. Sure, they’re not putting the burden on us by charging us more rent, but they are cutting our services. They better not start selling off the pool tables,” Charlie laughed. Then he thought for a moment. “Should we write a letter to our MLA? The Minister?” Hazel shook her head. “Politicians get enough letters from people complaining about every little thing they feel entitled to. Honestly, I think we should take it to management. First things first, we should make sure Ruby isn’t just spreading gossip again, and secondly, we need to give Debra a chance to explain what’s been going on. Maybe we are making assumptions that simply aren’t true. Cancelling yoga after adding classes because of demand makes no sense to me. And maybe they are having kitchen issues right now. We don’t know the whole story.”

“I suppose you’re right dear,” Charlie said as he gave Cleo a scratch behind her ear. “We might be getting all worked up over nothing.”

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Maybe it is all rumours, but there are important considerations that come out of today’s issue.

Residents want the very best meals, leisure activities/entertainment and supports they can get – just like any of us do. This can be challenging during hard economic times, or operational challenges. When budgets get lean in our own homes, we look at tightening the purse strings on non-essentials. We eat out less, cut back on impulse purchases, book fewer vacations, and live with less excess.

Rising costs in seniors housing expenditures to maintain service levels, staff salaries, utility expenses, and meal options are a reality. Revenue sources are limited, especially in affordable housing where residents have fixed or limited incomes. Funding dollars only goes so far. Providers are charged with getting creative and finding ways to meet operational demands and resident expectations amidst these challenges. It’s not enough to keep the doors open. Providers want to ensure their buildings are places seniors enjoy living in and that people want to visit.

What do you think of Charlie and Hazel’s present situation? Share your thoughts below.

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