News release

Minister’s Panel Recommends Addressing Quality of Care and Staffing

NOTE: This release was sent on behalf of the advisory panel on long-term care.

The minister’s expert advisory panel released its recommendations today, Jan. 15, to improve the quality of long-term care in Nova Scotia.

After extensive discussions with more than 375 stakeholders, including long-term care residents and staff, families, health-care professionals, and organizations, the panel delivered five recommendations and 22 action items to be achieved over the next two years.

The panel was announced in September by Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey. Its mandate was to identify solutions to improve quality of care in long-term care facilities, recommend appropriate staffing levels and skill mix, and advise on the recruitment and retention of staff.

“Nova Scotia needs a system that is person-centred, responsive to the growing complexities of the residents and supportive of the staff in long-term care,” said Janice Keefe, panel chair and director of the Nova Scotia Centre on Aging at Mount Saint Vincent University. “We believe this is attainable and put forward recommendations and action items that will begin to address the issues immediately. But it’s going to take some investment.”

Throughout consultations, the panel consistently heard and learned about three systemic themes - complexity, culture and fragmentation. Feedback reinforced pressures on the system, including complex and high-need admissions, high rates of chronic disease and dementia, the responsive behaviours of some residents, and recruitment and retention challenges of human resources, which are contributing to significant strain on the system.

Throughout the province, nursing home staff regularly work short staffed, which leads to additional work responsibilities and high rates of stress and illness. Unfilled vacancies and difficulties attracting new talent are areas the panel said need to be addressed in the short term.

The panel’s recommendations tackle staffing mix, staff shortages, improving the skills mix, enhancing access to health professionals, transitions of care between health-care facilities, and improving overall system performance.

The panel has also endorsed and recommended full implementation of the Nova Scotia Long Term Care Pressure Injury Prevention Strategy.

“We recognize there is work to do, including addressing the stigma around long-term care that undermines good work that is happening,” says Cheryl Smith, panel member and long-term care nurse practitioner in Amherst. “We believe the recommendations in this report will help to improve the quality of care and increase the confidence of residents, families, staff and the public.”

The panel recommended modernizing the Homes for Special Care Act, which has not been amended in 30 years, to address needs of current and future residents.

“It is our belief that the long-term care sector has long reached a state of readiness for change, and what is needed now is the commitment of leadership to invest in and drive change,” said Dr. Greg Archibald, family physician, wound care expert and head of family medicine Dalhousie University. “We, like so many of the stakeholders we engaged, feel invested in this cause and desire to see these recommendations acted upon.”

FOR BROADCAST USE:

The minister’s expert advisory panel on long-term care delivered five recommendations today (January 15th).

They include an increase in staff to address shortages and enhancing access to health professionals like nurse practitioners and allied health providers.

The recommendations focus on improving the skills mix, transitions of care between health care facilities, and improving overall system performance.

The panel also endorsed and recommended full implementation of The Nova Scotia Long Term Care Pressure Injury Prevention Strategy.

Panel chair Janice Keefe says the recommendations are attainable but will require investment from the provincial government.

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Robyn McIsaac
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