Fall summit will decide nursing homes' future Daily Gleaner May 11, 2012

Care | 717 seniors waiting for nursing home beds

BY LAUREN BIRD




Problems facing New Brunswick's nursing homes aren't new and aren't being fixed.


Jean-Eudes Savoie, vice-president of the NB Association of Nursing Homes, said decisions regarding the future of nursing homes won't be decided until a summit in November. Savoie was speaking at the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes annual meeting, called Embracing Change: Leading Through Innovation, on Wednesday.


'When we look around at other countries and other provinces, all those jurisdictions have taken actions and have made changes toward what we call today long-term care organizations. And that's what we have to do in New Brunswick if we want to be sustainable in the near future,' Savoie said.


'Right now, it is very difficult.' Finances and the education of aid workers are the biggest issues facing the province's nursing homes, according to Savoie and Micheal Keating, executive director of the NB Association of Nursing Homes.


Savoie said instead of operating independently, nursing homes will have to work in collaboration with other care providers and with government.


The November summit will involve about 500 members and workers discussing new ways to provide care to seniors on a long-term basis.


'The government told us that they're going to change how we do business and of course, they fund us
to large degree.

'We have to find ways to be able to respond to tomorrow's challenges, which are really today because we don't have enough nursing home beds,' Keating said.


Even with more than 1,000 nursing home beds the government announced it would provide throughout the province, about 20 per cent of hospital beds are occupied by seniors needing nursing home care. In April, 717 seniors were on the wait list for long-term care.


Although decisions haven't been made on whether more private longterm care will be provided or if there will be more specialized centres for dementia and Alzheimer's patients, Social Development communications officer Mark Barbour said the government plans to work with the association to make the system more efficient.


But Cecile Cassista, executive director for the coalition of seniors and nursing home residents rights, doesn't think things are moving fast enough or in the right direction.


'We are so far behind; we need to be looking at our home-care program,' Cassista said.


The annual meeting, which concluded Thursday, was dedicated to preparing members for changes after the November summit.


'We have a set pattern of how things work, but it's not working. It's not sustainable, that's why we have to move on,' Keating said.


Keynote speaker Nancy Fox told Wednesday night's audience to change their organizations to better serve long-term care residents for the future. Fox is the chief life enhancement officer at a long-term care facility in Colorado.