McNeil Government Unprepared for Long-Term Care Staffing Issues

Long-Term Care homes can now hold outdoor family visits, but many will have difficulty finding enough staff to allow loved ones to see their parents and grandparents.


Progressive Conservative MLA and Critic for Seniors and Long-Term Care, Barbara Adams is calling on the Minister of Health to temporarily increase staffing budgets, modestly, so that these visits can happen. 


“The government makes a lot of sudden, last minute decisions,” said Adams. “There wasn’t a lot of time for nursing homes to prepare, and we know that a shortage of money and staff caused a lot of problems during COVID-19.”


Long-term care workers are scrambling to find the staffing and time to cope with the surprise announcement by the McNeil government. While families of loved ones in nursing homes are overjoyed, it places a greater strain on facilities already dealing with chronic understaffing. 


The increase would see each resident receive 4.1 hours of staffed care per day, up from 3.6. 


Adams has seen this first-hand. In addition to her duties as MLA, she has been working as a physiotherapist at Ocean View Continuing Care Centre for nearly two months.


“Long-term care staff have been working around the clock,” said Adams. “They’ve worked overtime, spoke up to receive sufficient personal protective equipment and had to fight the Premier to access the pandemic pay announced by the federal government. They aren’t complaining, they just want action to go along with the nice words.”

The outbreak and deaths at Northwood has put a well-deserved spotlight on long-term care in Nova Scotia. Premier McNeil cut millions to long-term care over several budgets, cut the CCA training program and won’t commit to keeping seniors in separate rooms at Northwood moving forward. The Liberal government has also failed to implement key recommendations from the Long Term Care Report published in December 2018. 


“Family visits are important to the mental well being of seniors in Nova Scotia and to their families,” said Adams. “Which is why you have to support that decision and make it easier for residents to see their loved ones. That support must come with the funding to pay for it. Every long-term care facility in Nova Scotia should be staffed appropriately to meet the challenge of fighting off a second wave of COVID-19.”