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Nova Scotia pledges to add 600 more rooms to long-term care homes in the province

The most recent data from the province shows that from July to September 2022, just under 2,000 people were on the waiting list for nursing homes and residential care facilities.  (Jaison Empson/CBC - image credit)
The most recent data from the province shows that from July to September 2022, just under 2,000 people were on the waiting list for nursing homes and residential care facilities. (Jaison Empson/CBC - image credit)

The Nova Scotia government says it's adding 600 long-term care rooms across the province as the number of residents who are over 65 continues to grow.

This is in addition to the 600 new rooms that were previously announced last year, for a total of 1,200 new beds added to the province's long-term care capacity.

The most recent data from the province shows that from July to September 2022, just under 2,000 people were on the waiting list for nursing homes and residential care facilities.

When asked how the new rooms would help with growing needs of seniors in the province, Barbara Adams, minister of long-term care, told reporters Wednesday that the government's "two-pronged approach" involved not just more rooms, but further investment in care for people who want to remain in their homes.

She mentioned the Capable pilot program as an example. It pairs nurses, occupational therapists and trades people with seniors to create a plan for remaining in the home, as well as the Lift program to install lifts and other equipment in homes to help with mobility needs.

"'Quickly' is not something that you say in health care," Adams said, adding that the government's work has reduced waiting lists for home care from 1,500 people to less than 700.

"We know that we need more beds, but we also know that we need to do a better investment into home care," Adams said.

Officials say the hope is to adequately prepare for current and future needs for long-term care and free up hospital beds for surgeries and other medical treatments. About 280 people are currently in hospital waiting for a placement in a long-term care facility.

"As we were doing an analysis of the trend in population growth and the wait list for each of the facilities, as well as where people were moving in Nova Scotia ... we certainly knew that the projected 500 [rooms] was not going to come anywhere close to meeting the need."

Numbers from Statistics Canada and the provincial Department of Finance and Treasury Board project the population of people over 65 in the province will be around 300,000 by 2031. Currently, the province has the third-largest over-65 demographic in the country.

Officials say the newly announced rooms will bring the count of new and replacement rooms to 3,500 by 2027 with operating costs of about $140,000 each annually. The single rooms will each be outfitted with their own bathrooms.

Six facilities are expected to open this year, with a combined total of 450 replacement and new rooms.

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