Provincial pilot projects aimed at helping seniors

The Newfoundland and Labrador government says it will fund pilot projects for more spaces in personal care homes and to allow seniors to access better transportation.

Health minister says total of $3M will be targeted for more care home spaces, better transportation

Health Minister Susan Sullivan has announced two pilot projects aimed at helping seniors. (CBC)

The Newfoundland and Labrador government says it will fund pilot projects for more spaces in personal care homes and access for seniors to better transportation.

Each initiative will get $1.5 million from the government, for a total expenditure of $3 million.

The personal care homes pilot project will get the money over an 18-month period. It will allow up to eight residents requiring a higher level of care to be admitted to three personal care homes. The homes will be selected through requests for proposals.

The transportation-related initiatives will roll out over three years, and provide up to $100,000 per year in funding for successful applicants.

The government is not yet ready to announce its plan to pay family members to take care of their own relatives.

Health Minister Susan Sullivan said that should happen soon.

"Our government has made long-term care and community support services a top priority and we are laying out a comprehensive and focused vision for the next decade," Sullivan said.

Seniors' advocates backed the move.

"I applaud the provincial government’s commitment to finding new and innovative ways to address challenges faced by seniors," said Leo Bonnell, chair of the Provincial Advisory Council on Aging and Seniors.

But NDP Leader Lorraine Michael said the announcement was deeply disappointing.

Michael cared for her mother for years. She said there were few specifics about how people who have lived through that situation will be helped.

"It was very, very frustrating," Michael said. "I'm an intelligent educated professional person and I felt completely helpless. That was my experience almost all the way along."

Michael also wants more concrete details about how the province will keep seniors from being warehoused in hospitals because they have nowhere else to go.  

That's something family doctor Pat O' Shea says he still sees too often. He's also calling on the government to move more quickly.  

"If you have a loved one who's in emergency or in the hospital  trying to get services and they are not available, yet you want the pace to be tomorrow or today, unfortunately that's not going to be achievable," O'Shea said.

"But we have to keep pushing in the right direction."