05/26/2016 16:53 EDT | Updated 05/27/2017 01:12 EDT

Manitoba study calls for more supportive housing units, better affordability

WINNIPEG — A new Manitoba study has found creating more supportive housing units in Winnipeg could help offset growing demand for personal care home beds.

Researchers with the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy said more needs to be done to help supportive housing reach its full potential.

There are 5,500 personal care home beds in Winnipeg and 515 supportive housing units.

Supportive housing provides 24-hour care, but not hands-on care like in a personal care home.

The study found about one in 10 personal care home residents were clinically similar to supportive housing tenants, meaning they could dress themselves and feed themselves.

Malcolm Doupe, the study’s principal investigator and an associate professor at the University of Manitoba’s Department of Community Health Sciences, said between now and 2036 the number of Manitobans aged 75 and over will double.

 This means there will be more demand for personal care homes.

He said expanding supportive housing is one option to ease demand.

"Instead of expanding personal care home beds by 10 per cent, we're showing that stakeholders have the option of doubling the number of supportive housing units in Winnipeg to help care for individuals."

Researchers said while the cost of supportive housing is lower for taxpayers, user fees are higher and that can be a challenge for some people to get into a supportive housing unit.

“We also know that many of these low-care personal care home residents, the supportive-housing look-alikes, if you will, come from the lowest income areas in Winnipeg,” said Doupe.

“This begs the question of affordability and the need to streamline supportive housing user fees to help ensure it's a viable care option for everyone."

(CTV Winnipeg)