Home care, not more nursing homes

Changes coming to care for elderly

Nova Scotia’s health minister says there are too many people on the waiting list for nursing home beds who don’t really need long-term care. The current waiting list has nearly 2,500 names. Leo Glavine says a survey of people on the list showed that half wouldn’t accept a bed if one were offered tomorrow. (See below for details about how the survey was conducted.)

The minister says people want to stay in their own homes as long as possible, but apply to put their names on the waiting list as insurance so that they’ll get a bed when they need one.

On Tuesday, Glavine announced that starting next month, those who decline a bed will be removed from the list and will have to wait 12 weeks to re-apply. Last year, 580 people who were offered a bed, chose to defer placement, but deferrals will no longer be allowed. People offered a bed will have one business day to decide whether to accept it.  As a general rule, beds must be within 100 kilometres of the person’s home community.

Focus on home care

Glavine said the government wants to focus more on improving home care as an alternative to nursing homes.

“Home care has to be the way of the future,” he said. “Anybody who’s been in government for the last 10 years knows we could never build enough nursing homes.”

At the same time, he suggested there may be ways of cutting home care costs. He said the government plans to call for competitive bids on home care services, probably in the fall.

“I think we’re going to get a much better price point in each hour of home care that will be delivered in the province so hopefully that will offset the growing utilization.”

A government news release issued in December says hourly rates for home support services range from $34.26 to $58.44. Nursing services are as high as $90.78 per hour.

The executive director of the Victorian Order of Nurses, Cumberland says the VON has provided home care services in Parrsboro for 84 years. Carol Curley adds, “VON is very focused on ensuring that we continue to work closely with the government to meet the home care needs of Nova Scotians.”

At his Tuesday news conference, Glavine released a report commissioned by the government from the Nova Scotia Centre on Aging at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax. It calls for a number of improvements in home care including more hours of care and more support for family caregivers.

How the waiting list survey was done

The Centre on Aging also conducted the waiting list survey. It included telephone interviews with 21 people on the nursing home waiting list. Since many of the other people selected for the survey had mental impairments, 104 of their caregivers including spouses, other family members and friends were also questioned. Seven of the 125 interviews were with people in Cumberland County.

In addition, 85 family caregivers were surveyed by phone, two in Cumberland County.

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1 Response to Home care, not more nursing homes

  1. Nancy Curleigh says:

    Bruce: a good write-up. I visit our local Care Centre several days a week. There certainly is a great need for an increased number of nursing homes. And, I have spoken with several families who have told me that either they have declined for a family member, or, the member applying has declined. Often the reason is that the member does not feel quite comfortable in making that final decision, or, the offer of a nursing home “away from home” is so very inconvenient and they feel a sense of abandonment. As part of the “aging population” it is a very real concern for us. It is our hope to be able to stay in our home as long as possible and, at ages almost 76 and 79 – so far, so good. We planned our cottage on one level thus enabling us to “get around with assisted devices” if necessary. In autumn I broke my femur and the use of a walker was made easy! I shall continue to read your columns. Thanks. Nancy Curleigh, Parrsboro

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