A great grey tide of Manitobans will turn 80 in the next couple of decades, spurring the need for as many as 6,300 additional personal care home or supportive housing beds.
In Winnipeg, the increased demand will not be great until around 2021, when the first of the baby boomer generation hits 75. But in other parts of the province -- notably the north, Interlake and parts of eastern Manitoba -- the need for more personal care home spaces is being felt already, according to a report published Thursday by the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy.
The study found the proportion of Manitobans using personal care homes has shrunk since 1985. That may be due to alternatives such as assisted living or home care -- and perhaps a healthier population. But with a large wave of boomers entering their 70s and 80s in the years ahead, there will be greater demands on the system.
Dan Chateau, the study's lead author, said an additional 5,100 to 6,300 personal care home or supportive housing beds will be needed in Manitoba by 2036. There are close to 9,700 personal care home beds in the province at the moment.
Chateau said the extra capacity won't be needed all at once, nor will demand be spread evenly throughout the province. Between now and 2021, there will be only a moderate need for more spaces in Winnipeg. But between 2021 and 2031, demands will increase substantially in the city and most other parts of Manitoba.
Winnipeg health officials have some time to plan for the coming wave, but they cannot afford to ignore it, Chateau said.
"If we don't address the needs, then it will be a serious issue," he said.
Health Minister Theresa Oswald said the report will be useful in helping the province plan for long-term care needs.
But she disagrees with its conclusion there won't be a significant increase in demand for personal care home beds in Winnipeg in the next decade.
"We have other data that says that we need to be building our capacity almost immediately in Winnipeg," she said Thursday.
One factor is the significant number of current personal care home residents -- more than 200 -- who are well under 65 and could live for decades. These are people who have brain injuries or chronic, debilitating illnesses, she said.
Real Cloutier, chief operating officer of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, estimates Winnipeg will likely need 400 new care home or assisted living beds in the next decade alone.
"Clearly, we've got a big population demand that's coming and we need to be ready for it," he said.
Another 160 personal care home beds will open at Holy Family Home, on Aberdeen Avenue near Main Street, by 2017, he said, while another 24 supportive housing units are set to come on stream in the next year.
The latter are designed for residents who are mobile, but need help with medications and at meal time.
Chateau said his study did not place a price tag on the required personal care home units.
"That would be a whole other project," he said.
Apart from demographics, the study looked at other factors that influence the demand for long-term care.
For instance, people who are married and have children are less likely to be placed in care.
A married woman is 23 per cent less likely to enter a personal care home while a married man is 40 per cent less likely, the study showed.
Having a single child reduces the likelihood of entering long-term care by 27 per cent while two or three children reduces the chances by 34 and 38 per cent respectively.
29,275 -- the number of Manitobans who were 85 and older in 2011.
30,555 -- the number of Manitobans expected to be 85 and older by 2021.
46,810 -- the number of Manitobans expected to be 85 and older by 2036.
9,666 -- the current number of personal care home (PCH) beds in Manitoba.
5,400 -- the number of PCH beds in Winnipeg.
1,616 -- the average number of Winnipeggers admitted to a PCH each year between 2004 and 2009.
97.9% -- occupancy rate of PCH beds in Manitoba in 2009-2010 (98.8% in Winnipeg).
5,100 to 6,300 -- number of additional spaces (PCH, supportive housing, expanded home care) that will be needed in Manitoba by 2036.
2021 -- the year in which demands for long-term care spaces is expected to begin rising significantly.
-- source: Manitoba Centre for Health Policy