Nursing home workers at Seaview Manor in Glace Bay, N.S., mounted an information picket Wednesday to raise awareness about a provincewide shortage of continuing care assistants and licensed practical nurses.
Tammy Martin of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents about 125 staff at the 113-bed facility, said the labour shortage means workers are putting in overtime and giving up vacations.
"They're desperate for help," Martin said. "They've been working short for a long, long time and it's not getting any better. It just keeps getting worse."
She said that's not good for staff or residents.
"Somebody needs to pay attention that these workers and residents are in danger every time they work short," Martin said. "These people and these residents can't continue to go on like this, and across the province, something has to give and it has to give soon."
Seaview resident Alex Feldman joined the picket line in solidarity with the nursing home's staff. He said the employees treat him well and he fully supports them.
Martin said the union does not blame administration at Seaview, which is aware of the union's concerns and agrees the solution needs to come from the provincial government.
She said CUPE was disappointed that the union was excluded from meeting Premier Tim Houston and staff with the Department of Health and Wellness this week when they were in Cape Breton to talk to health-care workers about the need for improvements.
The meetings were only for doctors or those employed directly by Nova Scotia Health, Martin said.
Seaview CEO Eric Doucette said the provincial government is well aware of the "critical" labour shortage in long-term care and is working on fixing it.
"I have total confidence ... that the new government definitely has this in [its] sights," he said.
"I think the first major demonstration of the awareness of the problem was actually appointing a minister of seniors and long-term care."
In addition, Doucette said, the province has created a new office of recruitment and retention for health-care professionals.
The Department of Labour, Skills and Education has also approved funding for a continuing care assistant training program in Glace Bay, he said.
Seaview management is doing its best to look after residents and staff, Doucette said.
"I think we do everything we can every day ... to make sure that our residents are properly cared for and that they are kept safe."
Meanwhile, he said, the facility has hired a new medical director to oversee admission of new residents.
Last month, Doucette said Seaview had 15 empty beds at the same time the province said there were nearly 400 people in the eastern zone seeking admission to long-term care.
The CEO said the empty beds were a result of the lack of doctors in the area.
The facility has since appointed Dr. Mohsen Yavari as medical director, but Doucette said the details are still being worked out before the empty beds can be filled.
MORE TOP STORIES