Cape Breton Post - - Op-Ed -

With just over a week be­fore the Nova Sco­tia pro­vin­cial elec­tion, there is a sense of ur­gency for the 50-plus mem­bers of the Con­tin­u­ing Care As­so­ci­a­tion of Nova Sco­tia to be heard.

Their voices rise up in sup­port of their clients, fam­i­lies and care­giv­ing staff who try to ra­tio­nal­ize two years’ of pro­vin­cial bud­get cuts to long-term care and their dev­as­tat­ing im­pact. Clearly we are at a cross­roads. Con­sider this lat­est in­for­ma­tion from Cen­sus Canada and the Con­fer­ence Board of Canada:

-“Cen­sus data showed that, for the first time ever, se­niors now out­num­ber chil­dren in Canada.

-The Fu­ture Care for Cana­dian Se­niors se­ries es­ti­mates that 2.4 mil­lion Cana­di­ans age 65+ will re­quire paid and un­paid con­tin­u­ing care sup­ports by 2026. By 2046, this num­ber will reach nearly 3.3 mil­lion.

-Spend­ing on con­tin­u­ing care for se­niors is fore­cast to in­crease from $28.3 bil­lion in 2011 to $177.3 bil­lion in 2046.

-A nec­es­sary shift from acute to home, com­mu­nity, and longterm care will also put pres­sure on ex­ist­ing in­sti­tu­tional in­fra­struc­ture and on care­givers who must re­duce their work hours or leave the work­force.”

As we talk with our mem­bers and live the day-to-day re­al­i­ties of work­ing in long-term care, we see staff and vol­un­teers do­ing amaz­ing things de­spite a des­per­ate lack of re­sources. Al­though fam­i­lies help where and when they can and en­tire com­mu­ni­ties rally to fund raise, their ef­forts are not enough to keep pace with the grow­ing com­plex­ity of care, re­search, equip­ment and in­fra­struc­ture re­quired for our clients amid re­duced bud­gets.

The re­al­ity is that bud­get re­duc­tions have made it in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to main­tain fa­cil­i­ties, re­place both small and large equip­ment, and in­vest in new tech­nolo­gies and in­no­va­tions to pre­pare for the fu­ture.

En­hanc­ing Home Care ser­vices has al­lowed peo­ple to stay in their homes longer. While this is an es­sen­tial as­pect of the health­care con­tin­uum, it means that peo­ple are mov­ing into longterm care later. They ar­rive with more com­plex health is­sues and need­ing a higher level of care than ever be­fore.

Fa­cil­i­ties are chal­lenged to sus­tain a high stan­dard of care in the midst of ris­ing costs for fun­da­men­tal ex­penses such as elec­tric­ity, fuel and food.

As it stands Nova Sco­tia’s long-term care sec­tor is un­sus­tain­able. As the level of care needs in­crease and the cost of oper­at­ing the fa­cil­i­ties in­creases, fa­cil­i­ties will not be able to op­er­ate within the al­lot­ted bud­gets. As more and more fa­cil­i­ties find them­selves fac­ing deficits, a neg­a­tive im­pact on clients and staff will sadly be in­evitable.

We ask that you share this in­for­ma­tion with your col­leagues and friends. And when a candidate comes knock­ing, ask them about their plans to ad­dress our prov­ince’s long-term care needs now and into the fu­ture. Ask them if they’ll re­in­state the $8.2 mil­lion in fund­ing cuts. Ask them if they will en­gage your local nurs­ing home in dis­cus­sions about their fi­nan­cial, hu­man and in­fra­struc­ture needs and then act on those dis­cus­sions. Michael Walsh Ber­wick (Pres­i­dent, Con­tin­u­ing Care As­so­ci­a­tion of Nova Sco­tia)

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