There has been a great deal of misinformation shared recently about people waiting for nursing home beds. As a government, caring for our aging population is extremely important to us, so I want to share some facts about long term care with you.

Over the last five years the number of people waiting for long-term care has been cut by 53 per cent and the number of people waiting in hospital for a long-term care bed has been reduced by 38 per cent.

They’re not waiting as long either. The wait time at home for a nursing home bed has been reduced by 52 per cent and the wait time in a hospital for a nursing home bed has been cut by 29 per cent.

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During that same time frame, we have placed more people into long-term care. This tells us our process of placing people is working. It is more efficient and makes better use of the beds we have.

What’s important to remember in all of this is that care is being provided, or is available, whether our loved ones are in hospital or at home. We have dedicated and professional health care providers across this province who deliver quality care in hospitals, in long term care facilities and in people’s home.

Anyone waiting at home for long-term care may be eligible for home support or a number of other community-based programs to support them and their caregivers. We have worked with the Nova Scotia Health Authority and the home care agencies to reduce the home support wait list ensuring more timely access to care. I’d like to thank everyone for their commitment and hard work to provide care to our loved ones.

Despite what the critics may suggest, there are a number of positive things happening in continuing care. Our data clearly shows we are trending in the right direction. Wait lists are smaller, wait times are down and quality care continues to be provided. Our efforts are making a positive impact. We will work to ensure this trend continues.

That is why we are taking other steps to support people at home. As we recently announced, the Caregiver Benefit Program is expanding. It’s a program designed to provide some caregivers with financial support – $400 a month – to help care for a family member or friend at home. We believe in this program and we will expand it further, to reach even more people next spring.

I appreciate there are some who have faced longer waits or perhaps haven’t felt they’ve had a positive experience. I recognize that and want you to know we are working hard to address those concerns. If you do have any concerns about the continuing care you or a loved one are receiving or if you have questions about the programs and services that might be available to you, I encourage you to contact the Nova Scotia Health Authority continuing care team at 1-800-225-7225.

As a government, we are not opposed to opening more nursing home beds. We have said if more beds are considered the solution for certain areas, we’ll look at that. However, Nova Scotians continue to tell us they want to stay at home as long as possible and we are listening. We are helping them do that. We are spending money in the right places, ensuring there’s support for people to stay at home and receive the care they need. We are working with our partners and continue to make tremendous gains in home support.

And when the time comes that a person requires long-term care, we are working to make that transition easier and quicker. We have made, and continue to make changes to our long-term care placement policies. Our seniors matter to us and we will continue to respect them, support them and ensure they get the care they need and deserve.

Randy Delorey

Minister of Health and Wellness