The Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness says it's looking for alternatives to costly long-term care beds for seniors.

The former Progressive Conservative government promised to add 1,300 beds by 2015. About 1,100 have been added so far.

Approximately 1,500 people are still waiting for a bed in a long-term care facility.

But the department says cutting back on the number of new beds could save money, which could be used to improve home care.

"Many people think that institutionalism is the solution to the problem, but there are many other ways that we can help people stay in their own home," said Kevin McNamara, deputy minister of health and wellness.

"We know that many seniors prefer to stay home, if at all possible. That way, they can be close to their friends, their spouse, their family. And we believe that there are things that we can do in providing advanced home care."

But staying at home may not always be the best option.

John Chiasson, president of Doctors Nova Scotia, said home care is not what it used to be.

"Nowadays it seems that there's nobody home to look after seniors, no ability to take them in, so they're ending up in hospitals, which probably isn't appropriate," Chiasson said.

He said seniors should be wherever they can get the best care.

Nearly 8,000 people live in long-term care facilities in Nova Scotia.

McNamara said despite the long waiting list, 100 beds remain vacant.