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BEHIND THE SCENES: Mount Nemo nursing home closure forces families to search for new care options

BurlingtonToday editor Julie Slack takes us behind the scenes

In each “Behind the Scenes” segment, Village Media's Scott Sexsmith sits down with one of our local journalists to talk about the story behind the story.

These interviews are designed to help you better understand how our community-based reporters gather the information that lands in your local news feed. You can find more Behind the Scenes from reporter across Ontario here

Today's spotlight is on's Julie Slack, whose story 'Mount Nemo nursing home closure forces families to search for new care options' was published on Jan. 18.

Below is the full story, in case you missed it.

​When John Gould moved his wife into Mount Nemo Christian Nursing Home, he never dreamt he’d be scrambling to find a new home for her just four years later.

Guindolyn Gould, 93, is among more than 60 seniors who are losing their home after the north Burlington nursing home announced last week that it’s closing in September.

The home at 2480 No. 2 Sideroad posted a notice on its website Jan. 9, stating that the facility has agreed with the Ministry of Long-Term Care that Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2024, will be the home’s date of intended closure.

Administrator Karen Edge and Hank Gelderman, chair of the Mount Nemo Management Committee, said the facility is closing because it does not have a fire sprinkler system.

They stated that although the home is licensed to operate until June 30, 2025, it cannot operate without a fire sprinkler system – a requirement for all care occupancies that takes effect Jan. 2, 2025.

The home’s rural location has been a draw for many families, but it means there is no access to municipal services, specifically water.

Edge and Gelderman said that means that a sprinkler system would not be feasible in the location since they rely on a well and water filtration and septic systems. All of those would require substantial upgrades to meet those standards.

John Gould, 84, said his wife moved into the home Dec. 24, 2019; she has dementia and needed more care than he could provide from his home in Freelton. He chose the Mount Nemo home because it was close for him to drive to see her daily, which he did every day prior to COVID.

He said he’s not sure what he is going to do for accommodation for his beloved wife since there are wait lists at all the long-term care facilities in the area.

“I certainly never thought I would have to worry about finding a new home,” he said, noting that they waited for the spot to open in 2019.

As far as the transition, if or when he can find new accommodations, he said, “It’s hard to know what a person with dementia understands but I am sure it is going to be upsetting.”

It’s upsetting to him as well since he wants the best for his wife of 55 years. She was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia (LBD), a degenerative condition similar to Alzheimer's disease. He said it causes hallucinations.

“She was a head nurse at Baycrest (Toronto); she started off looking after the aged, and now she’s being looked after,” he said, adding Guindolyn was on a waiting list for Mount Nemo for three months prior to her move-in day.

John said he met his wife at the Jack and Jill Club for singles in Toronto when he was 22. “I met Guin and never went back to the dance after that.”

Together, after his wife’s retirement from nursing, they purchased a 10-acre apple orchard where they also made fruit wines until they retired for good and moved to Freelton.

John and Guindolyn Gould have been married for 55 years. Guindolyn has been living at Mt. Nemo Nursing Home since 2019.

John said he was told the original plan was to move residents into Shalom Manor which is under construction in Hamilton, but it’s not set to open until 2026.

“The website says the shovels are in the ground, but that doesn’t do us any good,” he said. “There’s a waiting list for all the top 13 long-term care homes, which I made a note of. There are more than 3,000 people waiting to get into those homes, and there are others who are just as needy.”

He was told that everybody from the home would be placed on the highest priority list, but he said he’s still confused. “The more I heard, the less I understood about how they do these things. There are probably people there who are completely on their own, (without any family) who looks after them? It’s kind of scary.”

He added that he also feels for the staff since some of them have been with Mount Nemo for many years.

“I know some staff had planned to retire from there in a few years,” he said. “What will they do?”

A meeting with residents and families was held with Home and Community Care Support Services (HCCSS Burlington Branch) to provide information about the process and the support that will be provided both by HCCSS and the Home.

Individuals will be assisted by HCCSS to complete applications and choice forms in the coming weeks, and the Home will support the transition of each resident to their new home.

“I had more questions when I left the meeting than when I went in,” John said. He added that he was reassured that “You won’t have to go somewhere that you won’t want to go.”

Still, he’s not so sure. “They say they won’t close it down until everyone has been placed, but they are closing it down.”

Gelderman, who is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Reformed Society for a Home for the Aged Inc., which operates Mount Nemo, said: “It has been an honour to provide our residents with care and services over the last 39 years. On behalf of the Board and Management Committee, we thank you for your prayers, support and patience as we transition each of our residents to a new home.”

Edge added: “Mount Nemo has been dedicated to providing quality care to enhance the lives of our residents in a Christian environment since 1985. Staff and volunteers, both past and present, have worked to create a welcoming, friendly and engaging home in which to live, visit and work, despite the multitude of challenges with our building and location. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts and pledge to make this transition as seamless as possible for our beloved residents, their family members, caregivers and friends.”

The Canadian Reformed Society for a Home for the Aged Inc. purchased Mount Nemo Lodge Nursing Home, a 30-bed facility, in November 1985. In 1991, it expanded to 60 beds, along with a 14-bed special care unit for people living with dementia. In 1998, the home was renamed Mount Nemo Christian Nursing Home; throughout its history, the home based its care on Christian principles.

“After almost 40 years of serving the Burlington community, we are sad to announce that our long history will be coming to an end,” Edge and Gelderman said.

Administrators were hoping the closure would align with its new home in Shalom Manor, but that didn’t happen. They said they will be working with placement services and local long-term care homes to transition all residents to a placement destination of their choice. They are also going to provide employment support to staff.

“We are grateful to our entire community for helping Mount Nemo to provide care and services to our residents, their caregivers, families and friends over the last 39 years,” they said.