Blue Paper Initaitive 2016

Published Times & Transcript November  5, 2016

Seniors’ group calls on province to move home care under health department


Dr. Pam Mansfield, clinical director of palliative care for the Moncton area of the Horizon Health Network, speaks at a meeting of the Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents’ Rights in Moncton on Friday.PHOTO: laura Booth/Times & Transcript New Brunswick seniors’ advocacy group is calling on the province to move the responsibility for home care to the health department to reduce costs, red tape and improve care to patients.

The province’s social development department now handles the administration, delivery and funding for home care – the only province in Canada where home care is not under the health department’s jurisdiction.

The initiative was launched Friday in Moncton by the Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents’ Rights.Dr. Pam Mansfield, clinical director of palliative care for the Moncton area of the Horizon Health Network, was at the Blue Paper launch to support the move.“[Social Development] looks at social inequities, they don’t look at how the health of the person is actually doing,” she said. “And the departments don’t speak to each other - and it’s crazy.”

Mansfield said red tape would be reduced if the health department was in control.Right now, she said, if a hospital patient is unable to return home because of medical needs, a doctor is required to document why the patient is required to go to a nursing home or a special-care facility. Social Development then assesses the patient and presents the case to panel that decides whether the person should be put on a waiting list for a nursing home.“So, imagine the length of time that takes for all that to happen,”said Mansfield. “You have all this bureaucracy that happens before you can get on the list.”Reducing that waiting time saves money, she said, as a hospital stay is more expensive than providing care at a nursing home or at a patient’s home.

As of mid-September, 641 people in the province are on a nursing home waiting list, with 395 of them waiting in the hospital, according to the Blue Paper Initiative report.“If you go to the hospital on the fifth floor in Moncton you will see people all dressed up in street clothes, the whole bit - they have nowhere to go because we have no home care at home,” said Cecile Cassista, executive director of the coalition.She said the system now doesn’t always offer seniors quality care.“

There is a home care, [but] it’s hit or miss,” said Cassista.“[Workers] have no benefits, some get paid mileage, they don’t work 40 hours a week. ...There’s a high turnover.”And a lack of home care workers means more patients are waiting in hospital until they can be admitted to a nursing home or special-care facility.Mansfield said she also would like to see improvements in how nursing homes are funded.“Social Development funds nursing homes based on how many patients they have, they don’t fund it based on how difficult the needs are of the patient,” said Mansfield.

“So, if you have a patient with ALS (a neurodegenerative disease) who needs one-on-one [care] ... the nursing home is not going to take that person because they don’t have the staff to do that. So that person is on the list, but everyone knows that person will never be accepted into a nursing home because their care needs are to great ... they’re going to stay in hospital.”

Mansfield said that, under the health department, funding would be allocated on health needs rather than on the number of beds occupied in a facility.Both the departments of health and social development confirmed on Friday they had received a copy of the Blue Paper initiative, said communications officer, Leah Fitzgerald, with Department of Social Development.

“The government of New Brunswick is taking the time to review the recommendations before responding,” she said.The Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents’ Rights was created in 2004. It is a non-partisan organization comprised of more than 60 groups, and a 18-member board aiming to enhance the quality of life for seniors.