Palliative care residence for children in dire straits due to major staff shortage
MONTREAL -- A Montreal palliative care residence for children is in dire straits, as it is losing staff and risks having to cut services.
The Lighthouse Children and Families centre (Le Phare in French) is losing staff to the public centre and private agencies, who are offering bonuses to attract workers, the centre's executive director says.
The Lighthouse, which has lost around a quarter of its staff since October, can't afford to compete with the bonuses.
Executive director Lyne St-Martin says their mission goes beyond care to let kids be kids in very trying times.
The residence on Mount-Royal Ave. East in Montreal is not large and cares for a handful of children at a time, but it cannot afford to lose more staff.
"We hope to never have to go there because there is a need, our families need for le Phare to continue to offer its services whether it be for symptom management, end of life care or for respite stays, our families need us to be present," said St-Martin.
The Lighthouse has offered ongoing and palliative care for children and support for their families for over 20 years.
St-Martin said staff salaries are comparable to the public sector, and, unlike hospitals, there is no compulsory overtime.
However, COVID-19 bonuses have enticed staff to the public sector, and competition with private agencies that can also offer more scheduling flexibility is fierce.
St-Martin said current staff are filling gaps to ensure they maintain the level of care the children and their families deserve.
The need for more personnel is dire.
The Mount-Royal residence is not large and cares for a handful of children at a time, but it cannot afford to lose more staff, said its executive director.