The province’s plan to increase the number of long-term care beds on the Island is expected to cut the wait time for a bed in half.

There are currently 1,100 long-term care beds in private and public facilities across the Island. An additional 140 people are waiting for a bed, usually in hospital. The average wait time for a long-term care bed is 93 days.

Cecil Villard, P.E.I. director of Home-Based & Long-Term Care, said the province has been working to reduce those numbers.

"Acute care is not an appropriate environment for an individual senior waiting for long term care, and the shorter we can make that stay in acute care, the better it is to the individual," he said.

Earlier this year, Health PEI issued a request for proposals looking for a private operator to provide 55 more nursing care beds. Last week, the province announced the three successful recipients of the new beds. Andrews of Summerside will receive funding for 10 beds, the Atlantic Baptist Home in Charlottetown will receive 15 beds, and a new facility at Mount St. Mary's in Charlottetown with receive funding for 30 beds.

In addition to those 55 beds, the province plans to add another 70 beds over the next year:

Facility Number of beds Date expected to receive beds
Andrews of Summerside 10 June 2013
Small hospitals in Tyne Valley, O'Leary 15 June 2013
Mount St. Mary's in Charlottetown 15 August 2013
Mount St. Mary's in Charlottetown 15 January 2014
Atlantic Baptist Nursing Home 15 April 2014

Villard said the system will see a number of benefits.

"Obviously it will reduce the wait time for individuals waiting for long term care. It'll obviously take some pressure off the acute care hospitals. But I think most importantly, a number of these beds are being designated as beds for dementia care, which means they will have a higher level of security for individuals that require it," he said.

Villard said those dementia care patients are the most difficult to place in appropriate beds. Under the new plan, half the new beds will be designated just for those patients.

Villard said the new beds should cut the waiting list, and the wait time, in half.

John Kenny, president of the P.E.I. Seniors Federation, said a reduction in wait times is good news.

"The more the merrier, I guess is what you’d say. I'm sure there will be a lot of seniors would be happy about that if they're on the list and waiting," said Kenny.

As the province points out, the Island’s population is rapidly aging thus making access to long-term care an ongoing issue in years to come.