After contributing to our province for their whole lives, seniors in Nova Scotia deserve dignity and appropriate levels of care in their later years.
Today, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston outlined his Party’s plan for systemic fixes to long-term care, including the hiring of 2,000 nurses and CCAs, a commitment to move towards single rooms, and establishing a new option for incremental supportive living as seen in other provinces.
“Our seniors deserve a long-term care system that is exceptional,” said Houston. “They shouldn’t fear the system, but rather feel a sense of comfort that the government will care for them at their most vulnerable time.”
As Nova Scotia’s population ages, the need for more beds will grow. Houston is committing to adding 2,500 single bed rooms immediately. In addition to those rooms, Houston submitted a proposal to the Prime Minister sharing his plan and seeking a federal commitment that would support the opening of an additional 1,000 single bed rooms, for a potential total of 3,500 new single bed rooms. Minister of Infrastructure, the Honourable Catherine McKenna has announced federal funding for shovel-ready projects.
“COVID-19 has shone a light on the importance of single rooms for long-term care residents,” continued Houston, “Particularly in relation to infection control and slowing the spread of illness within a facility. The funding appears to be there federally. We should be doing everything within our power to capitalize on this opportunity.”
In addition, A PC government will amend the Homes for Special Care Act to increase, and ensure mandatory staffing levels of at least 4.1 hours per patient to bring Nova Scotia in line with the recommendation from the Nurses Union. This will require the need to hire 2,000 additional professionals to join the 9,144 working in Nova Scotia today. The plan will reinstate the CCA training grant, allow for in-facility accredited CCA training; and make the CCA registry mandatory.
Even before COVID-19 hit, understaffing was an issue with many seniors unable to get the care needed. Though the government has seen some successes in home care, there are many that need just a little more than home care can provide. Some seniors require 24-hour supervision or no longer have a spouse or family to support them.
“These changes are overdue,” Barbara Adams, the PC Critic for Long-Term Care. “In the past seven years, the McNeil government has passed 272 pieces of legislation. They have yet to make one change to the Homes for Special Care Act that governs long-term care properties.”
The PC plan would also see the creation of a new option of government-funded care. When a senior requires more assistance than can be provided by home care, but does not have complex medical needs and can’t afford assisted living, there are no options available for government-supported care. ‘Supportive Living’ would establish assisted living choices for seniors, where they can continue to age in place in a comfortable home environment.
“To address the problems facing long-term care, there must be compassion and the will to change the status quo.” said Houston. “Caring for seniors is not something that you leave on auto-pilot for seven years. We need to take action to show our greatest generation the dignity they deserve.”