AMHERST – Nova Scotia’s health minister is disappointed with Conservative comments the province isn’t doing enough to support long-term patients in Cumberland County.
“We’ve done quite a bit in the last three years moving forward by creating new beds and replacing existing beds,” Dave Wilson said.
The minister said 10 new beds were added to East Cumberland Lodge in Pugwash in August 2011, 20 new beds were added to Highcrest Nursing Home in Springhill in January 2010 and 36 beds were added in Amherst in March 2010 with the opening of Northumberland Hall on Willow Street.
“We are continuing to move on long-term care beds, but that’s not all you need to do,” Wilson said. “That’s what’s frustrating with the former government. They put all their eggs in one basket when it came to talking about beds and the number of beds you have. You have to invest in long-term care, but you also have to invest in home care.”
Wilson said seniors should have options and many would prefer to stay in their homes as opposed to hospital or a long-term care facility.
“That’s why we’re moving forward on both fronts. We have invested an additional $22 million in home care support,” the minister said. “We’re almost spending $200 million a year on home care to support seniors so they have more options, from assisted living to home care support.”
On Monday, Keith Bain, the Conservative critic for seniors, said the minister’s home-care announcement is window dressing for a major problem in the health care system the NDP created by not building new long-term care beds.
Bain said the wait list for long-term care beds has grown to 2,228 people – a 50 per cent increase since 2009. He said the NDP government hasn’t announced a new bed since coming to power three years ago.
Wilson said earlier Monday that the province will provide funding to district health authorities over the next two years to develop programs that will help more patients discharged from hospital return to their homes.
Cumberland Health Authority spokeswoman Ann Keddy said seniors awaiting placement in a long-term care facility has been a longtime problem at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre.
“It generally runs between 30 and 50 per cent of the medical and surgical beds. Right now, I believe it’s around 40 per cent,” Keddy said. “With yesterday’s announcement hopefully it will have a positive impact because people would rather be in their homes than in a hospital or long-term care centre.”