The Pines breaks ground with half of needed funds

Despite having raised only half of the $6 million needed to build a new facility for The Pines Retirement Home, the organisation has decided to break ground early next year, according to Pines Manager Sue Nicholson.

pines break ground

Pines resident Richard McLean chats with staff Haniffe Maharaj in a day room, which doubles as a bedroom at night.

Since Hurricane Ivan damaged one third of the building in 2004, the private non-profit residential home has been raising funds to build a larger facility which would be hurricane proof.

So far, the majority of the amount raised has come from sponsors including The Maples Foundation, the AaLL Foundation, Barclays Bank, CIBC Bank and Trust Company (Cayman) Limited, the local Rotary clubs, the Pink Ladies Volunteer Corps and Mike Simmons.

The most recent donation of $125,000 was by the Aall Foundation, presented to the organisation at the end of November.

The Pines Building Committee had hoped that government would come through with half of the remaining funds since 24 of the 35 patients were placed in the facility by a government agency. It recognised, however, the government’s own financial predicament.

Over the years, elected officials from both parties have said that they would support The Pines. But while there have been many speeches supporting the elderly and The Pines, funding from the previous government never materialised, Mrs. Nicholson said. Most of the $500,000 earmarked for the new building under the PPM administration was redirected to paying monthly fees for patients. The Pines charges $3,100 per month per patient, about $100 a day per patient for housing, meals and 24-hour nursing care.

Mrs. Nicholson noted that the new minister for social services, Mike Adam, has taken the time to visit and listen to their concerns.

‘Unfortunately, the recession hit and government didn’t know what the financial picture was going to be,’ Mrs. Nicholson said. ‘We are still hoping government will come through with some funding. They have not told us they won’t, but they have not made a commitment to us yet.’

Arch & Godfrey Ltd. has been awarded the contract as the main contractor and is building the facility at cost, she said.

The driving reason behind the low cost was that Heber Arch, the managing director for Arch & Godfrey who sits on The Pines board, was committed to the project.

As only half the target has so far been raised, the building has been designed to be built in two phases. The first phase, which the building committee has the funds to complete, is to erect and construct the exterior.

‘I am hoping people will see what we are doing with the money we have raised so far and more of the private sector will reach out. Or [that] government will pledge to complete the rest,’ Mrs. Nicholson said.

Phase two will involve fitting out the new building’s interior.

When fully completed, the new facility is designed to house 52 patients.

In the meantime, The Pines is making do with the current facility but space is tight for the 35 patients. Fifteen beds fill up former sitting rooms. At night, more beds are moved into the hallway and reception areas with movable screens being used for privacy. More beds are squeezed into rooms, which were once private or semi-private rooms.

With people having fewer babies and living longer, senior citizens are the fastest growing population group. Consequently, it is likely that demand for long-term care for the elderly will only increase.

The two other residential homes in Grand Cayman for the elderly are at full capacity with 16 people. While one facility in West Bay is being expanded to accommodate 10 more patients, it is likely that those spots will be filled as soon as they become available.

Even when the government home increases its capacity to 26 patients, it will still accommodate fewer elderly patients than The Pines currently handles.

There are at least 80 people in George Town alone who would benefit from long-term assisted living, according to Meals on Wheels Programme Co-ordinator Beulah McField.

The Observer on Sunday reported that there are always about five or six elderly patients who should be discharged from hospital, but cannot go home because there is no one there to take care of them.

There are also complicated family and financial reasons that may prevent them from going home, such as elder abuse or neglect. This effectively leaves some elderly patients in limbo at the hospital for months, and they frequently end up dying there, according to the hospital’s chief nursing officer.

The growing elderly population and lack of long-term facilities raises questions about how government plans to deal with growing demand, Mrs. Nicholson said.

The Building Committee consists of the Pines’ Chairman Julian Reddyhough, Vice-Chairman Colin Shaw; Treasurer Evan Burton; Manager Sue Nicholson, and Heber Arch of Arch and Godfrey.