News Release Archive

The upcoming provincial budget will end four years of hospital
spending cuts and increase the budget for Home Care Nova Scotia,
Health Minister Bernie Boudreau announced today.

For the first time in four years, hospitals will receive no
reduction in funding. Hospitals will have the stability to plan
the most effective ways to maintain high quality patient care.

"Stable funding gives hospital administrators -- and regional
health boards -- some breathing room," said Mr. Boudreau. "That
doesn't mean a bed might not be closed. But if that happens it
will be because there's a better way to deliver health care to
Nova Scotians."

In a significant step, the Department of Health is also planning
to provide multi-year funding for hospitals to create a more
stable environment for effective decision-making in the future.

The budget for the provincial home care program will grow to
$69.8 million in 1997-98, up from $60 million in 1996-97, said
Mr. Boudreau. A similar budget increase is anticipated in 1998-99
to meet the expected demand for this growing program, and to
allow for multi-year planning.

The chairs and chief executive officers of the province's
regional health boards as well as the hospitals that were not
designated in January, the QEII Health Sciences Centre,
IWK-Grace, N.S. Hospital and the Cape Breton Regional Health Care
Complex, heard the news yesterday from the minister.

"Despite the constraints in the health care system, stable
funding for hospitals can only be regarded as good news," said
Jim Perkin, chair, Western Regional Health Board.

Fred French, chair, Central Regional Health Board said,
"Financial stability will certainly go a long way in helping us
to plan effectively at both the community and regional level. The
job of health renewal isn't over but stabilizing funding will
sure make the job easier."

The new funding for home care in 1997-98 will help to consolidate
the delivery of current, core services, such as chronic home care
and home hospital care. It will also allow the Department of
Health to partner with existing services to gradually introduce
palliative home care services and home care for children with
orthopaedic needs. Further bridging with hospitals, the long term
care sector and mental health services will also occur.

In a recent consultation on future directions for the home care
program, participants said it was important to focus first on
consolidating existing home care services, and to test models for
expanded services with pilot projects. Funding for 1997-98 allows
home care staff to do both.

New funding also means that starting this spring, provincewide
home oxygen services will be launched under the home care

Home Care Nova Scotia's budget grew to $60 million in 1996-97, an
increase of $11 million over 1995-96. Since the launch of Home
Care Nova Scotia in June 1995, the number of people who have
benefitted has jumped from 7,000 to approximately 18,000.

"There's no other program in government that has grown like home
care, which only began as a comprehensive provincewide program
two years ago, about 20 years later than in some other
provinces," Mr. Boudreau said.

Mr. Boudreau also released the results of a home care caseload
review conducted last fall. The aim of the review was to refine
and evolve the home care program to meet unmet health and safety
needs first, and to put home care on solid footing for the

"The challenge has been to ensure the program is sustainable, so
that it will be there for Nova Scotians who need it," Mr.
Boudreau said. "The review made it possible to maintain services
as well as to increase services where appropriate and to decrease
them where appropriate, ensuring that basic health and safety
needs are being met."

Figures from the review indicate five per cent of home care
clients had their services increased (unmet health and safety
needs had increased since last assessment), 20 per cent of
clients saw no change in service level (service levels matched
need), 11 per cent of clients were discharged from the program
for routine reasons (treatment was completed, they were able to
look after themselves, admitted to long-term care or deceased),
another 11 per cent of clients were discharged because of policy
changes and 46 per cent had their level of service decrease.

The bulk of changes occurred in reducing the frequency of
cleaning and laundry. Among the clients who saw service levels
decrease, review results show that home support visits were
reduced on average by only four hours per month.

"Home Care Nova Scotia has hit its targets and is positioned for
the future, to continue the planned growth and expansion that
will serve thousands and thousands of Nova Scotians," Mr.
Boudreau said.

The two important steps announced today as part of modernizing
the health care system will help to make it sustainable in the
future and ensure high quality health care is available to


Contact: Lori MacLean  902-424-5025

trp                      Mar. 19, 1997 - 2:20 p.m.