Rankin Inlet elder care facility set to open in 2023

Facility will allow elders to ‘age in the land they love,’ says Health Minister Lorne Kusugak

As of Nov. 30, people in Rankin Inlet will need to show proof of vaccination to enter municipal buildings, and attend events such as weddings and church services. (File photo)

By Mélanie Ritchot

A new elder care facility in Rankin Inlet will open in just over two years if all goes as planned, Health Minister Lorne Kusugak announced Monday.

Construction of the 24-bed long-term care facility is set to start this year, Kusugak said in the legislature.

Originally slated to start in 2020, the project was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic last summer. Yet, the original goal of opening by 2023 remains.

“This is a significant milestone toward enhancing care for Nunavut’s elders,” he said.

Eventually, the facility will be able to care for elders with complex needs like dementia, who currently need to move south to receive care.

Kusugak said there are currently 34 Nunavut elders in Ottawa.

“Our department is committed to wrapping up as quickly as possible to be able to bring home as many [elders] as possible,” he said.

The new Rankin Inlet centre will give Nunavummiut the ability to age closer to their communities, where family members can be more involved in their lives and their care, he said.

Amittuq MLA Joelie Kaernerk asked Kusugak whether there is a waitlist for elders, specifically those with dementia, to get into the future facility in Rankin Inlet.

Kusugak said there is no waitlist, but the department will try to fill every bed in the facility. Some of them will come from Ottawa, while others may come from other communities’ facilities to get the care they need.

He said to keep in mind there are residents who have not reported that they, or their elders, need care “because they don’t want to be sent south.”

The upcoming project in Rankin Inlet is part of the Government of Nunavut’s plan to build three continuing care centres, one in each of the territory’s regions, ultimately creating 156 beds to care for elders in the territory by 2030.

In 2020, it was announced the first of the three would be in Cambridge Bay. The third is slated to be in Iqaluit.

Iqaluit’s existing facility is undergoing renovations and awaiting new management, as the last operator quit, citing bad treatment from the GN.

The six residents of Iqaluit’s elders home were transferred to other facilities in early May following the COVID-19 outbreak in the capital. Two were sent to other facilities in the territory and four were transferred to Embassy West Senior Living residence in Ottawa.

Aside from the capital city and Cambridge Bay, there are small elder care centres in Igloolik, Gjoa Haven and Arviat — totalling fewer than 30 beds.

An earlier version of this story said Baker Lake had an elder care centre. Its facility closed in 2018.

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(11) Comments:

  1. Posted by Question on

    Can the Arctic College start setting up courses to teach Inuit people to fill this place up as employees? Please. This is the only way Nunavut will be able to prosper.

    • Posted by Soothsayer on

      Here it is, NAC will finally be put to the test to see if it is up to task in serving its mission in our territory.

  2. Posted by Wilf on

    There is an important need for Continuing care in Nunavut. Recently the non executive members voted against supporting Cambridge Bay to get a new and larger facility. I don’t disagree with there logic which is its better to have a facility in there home communities. However this decision delays the designing of a facility that is badly needed in our community and region.
    I think these MLA,s should reconsider there decision and approve the necessary funding to get along with the design of this important facility. that way in a couple of years our community has the room to look after more elders.
    One of my family members is in the Cambridge Bay facility and is well cared for in the company of her fellow residents. I love that she is happy and is at home. I couldn’t imagine her being far away. The MLA,s have there own reasons for things but there is no point in delaying projects. Its going to take time to provide all the services that the elderly need in the regions and we should get on with supporting projects. No grand standing on this issue.

    • Posted by tuktuborel on

      If and when these Long Term Care facilities get built I hope they are truly designed to provide a comfortable living environment for our seniors in need. I have seen a few of the facilities and some are just ugly boxes with limited access to fresh air and have no connection to the land. Seniors would be so much more comfortable in a environment that is not a copy of many southern “big box” Long Term care facilities.

  3. Posted by Election years on

    Election years are nice. We get to hear from our politicians.

    • Posted by Confused on

      So true. This was brought up 5 years ago just went to another term!

  4. Posted by David Simailak on

    C’mon Nunatsiaq News!!!! Baker Lake’s was closed by George Hickes how many years ago now, citing challenges with the contractor!! All he had to do was tender and change contractors!
    Now our Elders will be looking out the window and seeing strange land in Rankin!!

    • Posted by Facts on

      Actually, a fuel spill under the building is what closed the centre down in 2018. The repairs would cost more than a new building.

    • Posted by Urban Inuk on

      Getting a little too personal, wasn’t it a government department like Department of Health or Department of Family Services that shut down Baker Lake elders home?
      Wasn’t it due to COVID concerns and also the state of the building and lack of repair?
      HMMMM, love it when fingers start pointing. This comment section should get interesting. Too little too late for me and my family, but hopefully will come to fruition for the elders of Nunavut who so deserve everyone’s respect and the right to live their last days with dignity.

    • Posted by Unfit Building on

      That’s not true. There were a number of building code issues and the structure was not suitable for elder care purposes. It would be more cost effective to build a new facility rather than repair the existing one.

  5. Posted by Iona on

    Our elders need to be where they can be close to family, divide the monies for each community according to population of elders.
    Also this would create employment in communities.

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