Four long-term beds are empty at South Shore Villa in Crapaud. (Google)

A Charlottetown woman wants to know why her 90-year-old mother is being forced to wait for a spot in a nursing home, when the home where she wants to live has four vacant beds that no one can use.

Darlene Harrison's 90-year-old mother Dorothy Ballagh was living independently in a senior's apartment at the South Shore Villa in Crapaud until she recently became ill. Now she's moved in with her daughter while she waits for a spot in a nursing home.

There are four vacant nursing beds at the South Shore Villa, where Ballagh would like to return.

But neither she — nor anyone else — can use them.

"That's what I don't understand and I've asked social workers, I've asked home care and no one can give me an answer," said Harrison.

"It's very frustrating for my mom and our family."

South Shore Villa is only licensed for the 31 long-term beds it already operates. The four new beds were part of a recent expansion.

Average wait 93 days

But general manager Kirk de Boer said the province didn't accept his proposal to increase his license when it issued a request-for-proposals to private operators to provide 55 more long-term care beds in February.

Beds in other communities were approved.

Meanwhile, South Shore Villa's four beds sit empty, even though de Boer said filling them would save the province money.

"Maximize the use of long-term care beds in nursing homes as opposed to having people wait in hospital. The cost to wait in hospital is definitely greater," said de Boer.

Currently there are 1,056 approved long-term care beds on P.E.I. The average wait for one of those beds is 93 days.

There are currently 154 people on a wait list. Health PEI said about one-quarter of those people are waiting in hospital.

The number of long-term care beds will rise to 1,129 by 2015, according to Health PEI.