With 150 seniors currently on a wait list for a long-term care bed, the province’s Department of Health and Wellness says it intends to act quickly to introduce 100 new beds over the next two fiscal years.
The funding for the beds was announced in the province’s budget earlier this month. Robert Mitchell, the province’s minister of health and wellness, said those beds will be in private facilities that will either create more space in their buildings, or have community care beds that they are interested in transitioning to long-term care beds.
Once the budget is passed, he added, the department will issue a request for proposals from private facilities across the Island.
“The private facilities that have [the space] will let us know immediately,” Mitchell said.
“And the beauty of the two-year commitment is that it will give private facilities time to make adjustments if they have to add infrastructure or change things in anyway.”
The plan is to have 50 new beds added to the system by the end of this fiscal year and up to 50 more the following year.
“If, fiscally, we are able to provide more, we would be looking at that as well,” Mitchell said.
He added that of the 150 Islanders currently waiting for a long-term care bed, 66 are in Island hospitals, 70 are waiting at home and the rest are in community care facilities.
Senior strategy coming soon
Mitchell said work is just about complete on a seniors health and wellness strategy, announced last year, intended to look at not just long-term care, but also the community care, respite care, home care and restorative care needs of aging Islanders.
“Seniors are very vulnerable, that demographic is aging and it’s getting to the point where we need to put a full focus on that, so I think the strategy will help us to form those paths moving on,” Mitchell said.
The strategy, he continued, will have a short-term, medium-term and long-term scope.
“We have to address needs of tomorrow, and we have to address the needs for five years down the road, so that’s the part the strategy will help us to address and we as a department can work forward on that,” Mitchell said.
He expects the seniors health and wellness strategy to be released in the coming weeks.