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Shifting focus, Chartwell plans to sell off long-term care homes

Chartwell’s Elmira location is included in the sale of its long-term care facilities. [Leah Gerber]

Chartwell’s  Long Term Care Residence and Retirement Residence in Elmira are being sold along with the rest of Chartwell’s Ontario long-term care platform in a $446.5-million deal.

Chartwell Retirement Residences announced the sale last week. Ownership of the facilities will transition to AgeCare Health Services, pending government approvals.

AgeCare will take control of Chartwell’s Ontario Long Term Care platform, including 22 facilities and 3,284 beds, plus a home currently under construction with 244 beds, and management of the current 100-bed home on that site.

“There will be no change to the employment of our existing employees.  AgeCare values the excellence of our current employees,” says Sharon Ranalli, Chartwell’s vice-president of marketing and communications, in an email.

“Teams can expect day-to-day operations to continue in a seamless manner and can look forward to knowing that their colleagues and teams will continue as they are today.”

Ranalli says she expects the transition to take up to a year.

Net proceeds to Chartwell after property debt, taxes and closing costs will be approximately $277 million, according to the company’s March press release.

In the release, Vlad Volodarski, Chartwell’s chief executive officer, says the company is selling off its long-term care facilities to focus on retirement residences, which make up most of the company’s business.

“Substantial growth in our retirement portfolio over the years resulted in our Ontario long term care operations comprising less than 10% of our business. As we made the strategic decision to focus on our growing retirement business, it was critical for us to partner with strong and reputable organizations which hold similar values, to ensure a smooth transition for our residents and employees. I am confident that AgeCare and Axium are exactly the right partners to continue the legacy of Chartwell’s Ontario long term care operations. I am glad that our long term care team will be joining AgeCare, an organization dedicated to the senior care sector since 1998. We are committed to working closely with AgeCare, Axium, and all our stakeholders to ensure a smooth and successful transition.”

AgeCare Health Services has been in operation since the late 1990s. It was founded by two doctors practicing in Alberta. AgeCare’s facilities include 22 seniors’ communities in British Columbia and Alberta.

Jim Stewart, the chair of the Waterloo Region chapter of the Ontario Health Coalition, advocates for more not-for-profit and publicly funded long-term care facilities in the province.

Oftentimes, residents in long-term care facilities are complex cases with high levels of acuity, he says.

“These long-term care facilities are having a very difficult time providing the adequate level of care and maintaining their profitability. It seems reasonable, I would think, for the CEO or whoever’s making this decision at Chartwell, to think about moving into a [lower] level of acuity in terms of the patient profile that they look at.

“Retirement homes would probably be a good bet for them.”

Stewart said the change in ownership will probably not make a difference to the community, but one of the most important metrics to watch is how well a private company can implement the recommended four-hour-per-day standard of care for residents.

In 2020, the provincial government implemented a target of an average of four hours of hands-on professional care each day for Ontario’s long-term care residents. The province’s goal is to have all facilities meet that target by 2025.

In conjunction with its focus on retirement residences, the company also last week announced plans to acquire three recently developed facilities in Ontario with 467 suites from the entities affiliated with MTCO Holdings. The purchase price before transaction costs and customary closing adjustments is $228 million, including a deferred payment of $3 million. The residences are located in Collingwood, Barrie and Bowmanville.

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