Plan­ning for long term

Peo­ple, par­ties wres­tle with long-term care so­lu­tions

The Southern Gazette - - SPORTS - BY RANDY EDI­SON, CHANTELLE MACIS­SAC AND MELISSA JENK­INS

Ac­cess to long-term care is a big deal — es­pe­cially for those who need it. Ask Dawna Mel­bourne. Her hus­band, Harold, is now a res­i­dent at the Dr. Charles L. Le­Grow Health Cen­tre in Port aux Basques.

He was trans­ferred there, closer to home, af­ter he be­came im­mo­bile.

Be­fore that, he was a de­men­tia pa­tient who wan­dered. The Port aux Basques cen­tre couldn’t ac­com­mo­date him so he had to re­side at a fa­cil­ity in Bay St. Ge­orge.

That meant he was hours from home and Dawna had to travel the TCH to see her hus­band.

Things are much im­proved for both now.

“It’s 100 per cent bet­ter with him be­ing home,” she said. “You can see the dif­fer­ence it has made in his over­all health.”

The ef­fects on pa­tients, fam­i­lies and the health sys­tem in gen­eral may vary, but there’s no deny­ing the need to ad­dress the short­age of long-term care fa­cil­i­ties and beds in the prov­ince.

Se­niors need­ing long-term care are be­ing forced to wait.

For ex­am­ple, in 2014-15, the av­er­age wait time at the Le­Grow Health Cen­tre was 12.75 days. The av­er­age wait time is cur­rently 50.5 days.

And, in the cen­tral re­gion, there are 519 long-term care beds. Ear­lier this year, there were 66 peo­ple on a wait­ing list for one of them.

Not only are se­niors wait­ing, some are wait­ing in acute care beds which puts a fur­ther bur­den on the sys­tem.

Out east, there is hope on the hori­zon.

With new fa­cil­i­ties in St. John’s and one al­most com­pleted in Car­bon­ear, there is some prepa­ra­tion for a spike in the ag­ing pop­u­la­tion.

Part of the prob­lem for those fac­ing a wait is find­ing out ex­actly what’s avail­able to whom and where.

MELISSA JENK­INS PHOTO/TC ME­DIA

Gord Ash on pri­va­tiz­ing long-term care: “Whether it’s a le­mon­ade stand or whether it’s a long-term care fa­cil­ity, the share­hold­ers are in it for profit.”

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