Olmsted County group homes closing due to staffing shortages

(ABC 6 News) – A long-term care provider in Minnesota for people with disabilities is closing many of its group homes on March 5.

Cardinal of Minnesota is closing 10 of its 55 group homes across the state due to staffing shortages. Seven of them are in Olmsted County.

"Olmsted isn’t alone right? It’s happening across the state it’s happening across the nation," Amy Thompson, Director of Adult and Family Services with Olmsted County, said.

Thompson said this isn’t a new challenge but the pandemic has certainly exacerbated the issue.

The closures limit the number of resources for individuals living with disabilities in Olmsted County.

"Last year in 2021 we saw six group homes close. And this year already by March 1st we’ll have seen six additional group homes close," she said.

Rochester City Council member Kelly Kirkpatrick has a sister who has lived in a group home for many years and the one she is living in now is one that is closing in one week.

"She will be going to live with mom and I will be doing a lot of filling in," Kirkpatrick said. That is until they find another home for her to live in.

Kirkpatrick said one of the biggest shocks was getting just a two-month notice to find new care options.

"It’s not a problem to care for my sister. My mother, of course, is happy to care for her daughter. But with 60 days notice when you haven’t been doing that for over 50 years, it’s a bit shocking," she said.

For those having to care for their loved ones at home, their houses aren’t always set up for this type of care.

"It’s not conducive. The doorways are small, my hallways are small," Kirkpatrick said about her home.

This is bringing some new challenges for Kirkpatrick, but she’s ready for those.

"I’ve never been trained to do anything like this but I can learn," she said.

Minnesota State Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) called on Gov. Tim Walz earlier this week to send National Guard troops to help with staffing at group homes. "This is a matter of life and death," Nelson said. This is just an emergency stopgap, not the solution to the ongoing staffing shortage.