A Merrimack assisted living facility in business for three decades has been forced to close, unable to maintain a financial footing in the pandemic’s shifting landscape.
Rose Haven Assisted Living, a family-run business with 28 beds, was hit hard by COVID-19 restrictions and doesn’t expect circumstances to improve enough to stay afloat.
“We see changes coming down the road, including new regulations, that we are just not going to be able to sustain,” Cindy Gaudreault, administrator at the facility, said on Monday.
Staffing, which has been challenging the past two years, has become even more problematic in recent months, Gaudreault said. Rose Haven’s dwindling population and the simultaneous effect of smaller insurance payments for low-income residents have hurt it financially.
“I always let my heart run our business, but my brain had to jump in when we realized this is just not working anymore,” she said. “We are in our third generation of caring for the seniors in the southern New Hampshire region. Our vision has been to care for people in the lower income bracket and, unfortunately, that plays a huge role in not making ends meet at this time.”
Eldon Munson, president of the New Hampshire Association of Residential Care Homes, said the closure of assisted living communities like Rose Haven because of staffing shortages and other pressures creates a gap that is not easily filled in the Granite State.
“The closing of Rose Haven is a tragic loss for senior care in the region. As a family-owned and operated entity, it was well known for both exceptional quality of care and the great love and respect offered to their residents,” Munson said in a statement.
“It is overwhelming,” Gaudreault said. “Some of my people are still crying. We have a woman who has been with us for 10 years and she is moving out this week. They don’t want to go. This has been their home.”
Since January, six residents have moved into nursing homes or other facilities, Gaudreault said.
The facility still has 21 residents. With the announcement of its closure, six of those made plans to relocate by the end of the July. Sixteen others have secured a spot at another assisted living facility or at a skilled nursing home, Gaudreault said.
Rose Haven is working to relocate the five remaining residents.
Gaudreault’s parents started Rose Haven Assisting Living 30 years ago. She said the decision to close has been heartbreaking for many people, including her own family, who currently live in the building.
“Our staff has done a tremendous job caring for residents,” she said. Still, workers have been asking for higher hourly pay, according to Gaudreault, who said they deserve to make twice as much but the family can’t afford to give it to them.
In addition, she said the building, an old home, is not designed like a typical assisted living facility. Residents share bathrooms, which is an issue because of COVID-19. It also is difficult to find extra space if someone must be isolated.
She has spent her free time advocating for senior citizens and Medicaid funding.
“They don’t pay enough, and it places these small homes at risk, especially now,” Gaudreault said.
The facility will officially close once all of the residents have moved into new homes.