SaltWire E-Edition

Province to add 2,200 beds by 2032

FRANCIS CAMPBELL fcampbell@herald.ca @frankscribbler

The Nova Scotia government has committed to a multi-year plan to create 2,200 additional new and replacement longterm care rooms by 2032.

The announced rooms, including 336 in three Halifax Regional Municipality communities, are in addition to 1,200 net new long-term care spaces to augment Nova Scotia’s overtaxed system by 2027 that were announced in January.

“Today, about 22 per cent of our population are seniors and this number is expected to increase to at least 25 per cent by 2032,” Barbara Adams, the minister of Seniors and Longterm Care, said in making the announcement Monday.

“Knowing that and knowing that construction takes time, I am pleased to announce today a multi-year infrastructure plan for longterm care rooms in Nova Scotia,” Adams said.

The Monday announcement accounts for 800 new additional long-term care spaces and the replacement of 1,400 rooms.

“Now, 2032 may seem a long way off but it is closer than you think and we know as a government that we must plan today for what we will need tomorrow,” Adams said.

“We know what happens when you don’t plan ahead,” she said, a direct shot at the Liberal government’s failure to plan for long-term care spaces during its eight-year government run that ended in 2021.

“We’re seeing the results of that lack of planning today,” Adams said. “Some of our most vulnerable Nova Scotians have been waiting far

too long in hospital beds for a room in a long-term facility. That is not what hospitals are for. We know that many more are continuing to wait from home and in community.

“Seniors who have worked hard all their lives to raise our families and build our province deserve to be cared for in a place that meets their needs.”

WAITING LISTS

Department staff estimated there are 1,700 Nova Scotians living at home who are on a wait list for long-term care beds, along with about 300 who are waiting in hospital for a long-term care space.

Of those at home and waiting for a space, 75 per cent are supported by the home-care system.

“While many are supported by our wonderful home-care staff, their needs are expanding beyond the scope of what home care can support,” Adams said. “They and their loved ones deserve the peace of mind of knowing that advanced care will be there if and when they need it.”

Adams said investing in long-term care facilities is one of the interconnected pieces of the province’s health-care system.

“Long-term care provides specialized, dedicated, continuous care to those who need it,” she said. “Like hospitals, these are health-care facilities but they are also people’s homes. They are places where our families gather to have celebrations, important conversations or just a place to enjoy a cup of tea and reminisce together. We are building these new rooms with that in mind.”

In January, the department announced 1,200 net new rooms in the system and 2,300 replacement rooms for a total of 3,500 either net new or replacement rooms.

5,700 BEDS

Monday’s announcement will add 800 new beds to the provincial inventory and 1,400 replacements for a total of 2,200 net new rooms, 2,200 licensed beds, along with 3,700 replacements for a total of 5,700 long-term care beds by 2032.

Two new nursing homes with 144 beds each are to be built and operated by Shannex on Seton Drive in Halifax and Starboard Drive in Bedford.

The planned new facility on Westwood Boulevard in Tantallon, to be operated by Gem Healthcare and announced in January, will add on an additional 48 beds, bringing the new build to a maximum standard of 144 rooms there.

Construction of those new HRM facilities will begin soon with occupancy expected by 2026. In total, 34 long-term care projects already announced are moving forward and the first replacement facility, Villa Acadienne in Meteghan, opened to residents in Septemer. Seven facilities broke ground in November and 10 more are to break ground by next spring.

The new replacement facilities referenced Monday will be announced in detail across the province over the next few weeks.

PHASED IN

It costs the government approximately $160,000 annually for the operation of one new bed when it is ready for occupation. The 800 new rooms announced Monday will cost about $128 million to operate when occupied and the 1,400 replacement rooms announced, with an increased mortgage and operating costs from the existing rooms they will replace, will cost an additional $56 million when those rooms are occupied.

The system does not have the capacity to hit go on all of the projects at the same time so they will be phased in over the next several years, with ground being broken in 2024, 2026, 2028 and 2029 and occupancy expected two years later in each case. The costs will be added to the department’s annual budgeting in the years the facilities are occupied.

The new builds will all be single-room, single-bathroom facilities.

HIGH STANDARD OF CARE

“The new design and layout of these spaces will also support our staff in providing the best and safest care in the country,” Adams said.

“Without our staff, there is no care. We need people, a lot of people to ensure the highest standard of care in the country will be delivered in Nova Scotia facilities. We are laser-focused on recruiting and retaining these wonderful employees. We are doing this by increasing salaries, we are doing this by providing free tuition for people training to become continuing-care assistants and we are doing this by building state-of-the-art, people-focused facilities.”

Shannex president Jason Shannon said the company has building permits for the two homes announced Monday and work will start immediately.

“In today’s construction, it’s challenging but we’ve been building nursing homes in other jurisdictions for a long time,” Shannon said. “It’s been over a decade since Nova Scotia has been looking at this so we have the teams and the designs and the ability to get them started.”

Shannon said it is also a challenge to staff the facilities once they are up and running.

“All the nursing homes are not going to open at the same time,” he said. “In the last year alone, we’ve had three international (recruiting) missions to Morocco, Singapore and the Philippines. In addition, there has been such a great improvement in the working conditions in nursing homes. They’ve improved the wages across the whole health sector, they’ve improved the hours of care, they brought in technology so we are finding it easier now hiring new people and attracting new people to health care.”

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2023-11-21T08:00:00.0000000Z

2023-11-21T08:00:00.0000000Z

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