Long-term care

Nova Scotia needs to update long-term care facilities, says advisory panel

Suggestions include new data collection process and diverse staff

Nova Scotia’s long-term care system needs major changes, and implementing suggestions like improved data management could help, according to an advisory panel.

The panel presented its findings at a news conference Tuesday at Mount Saint Vincent University, where chair Janice Keefe identified the current problems with the province’s long-term care as a “crisis.”

“We desperately need access to data in order to inform and drive system action,” she said.

The panel was formed in September 2018 and consists of Keefe, Cheryl Smith and Dr. Greg Archibald. They were tasked with finding ways the Nova Scotia government could improve its long-term care facilities by Nov. 30. The panel then asked for an extension to Dec. 21.

The panel made the following recommendations:

  • Put funds into hiring a more diverse staff
  • Support staff and create healthy work environments
  • Make qualified health staff more accessible
  • Make transitions to and from facilities smoother for both residents and families
  • Encourage positive culture and reject negative stereotypes of long-term care

The government says it intends to implement all five recommendations, while working closely with Nova Scotia Health Authority.

Care in the facilities

Gary MacLeod, a member of Advocates for the Care of the Elderly, said the government should have had the panel research costs associated with the recommendations, instead of “taking baby steps on a long road” towards long-term care updates.

MacLeod, who attended the news conference, is also concerned about the impact these changes could have.

“The future of long-term care is more of the same. I would hope that there would be some improvements in the bedsore situation, but as far as social activities and things like that, there doesn’t seem to be much movement towards a real quality of care,” he said.

Figuring out costs

Several opposition MLAs also attended the news conference, like Barbara Adams, who is the PC MLA for Cole Harbour and Eastern Passage. She agreed the panel should have spent more time on costs, especially for more long-term care beds. She would also like to see a “step two” that focuses on the number of beds needed.

Gary Burrill, NDP MLA for Halifax Chebucto, said the key thing to remember is that these changes involve people.

“I think the main thing that should be said about the report is that it amplifies and underlines what families and residents, and administrators and employees, in long-term care facilities have been saying for a long time now,” he said.