New Brunswick

Seniors coalition wants home care moved to health care

The Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents' Rights says it has ideas the New Brunswick government should consider for providing better care for seniors who want to stay in their own homes.
The Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents' Rights says New Brunswick should follow provinces that have put home care under the health department. (iStock)

The Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents' Rights says home care for seniors should fall under the jurisdiction of the New Brunswick Health Department.

The advocacy group released a document called "Home Care: Meeting a Need," which suggests ways the province can provide better care for seniors who want stay in their own homes.

Cecile Cassista, the executive director of the group, says it would make a big difference if the province followed the lead of other provinces, including Nova Scotia, that have put senior care all under one department.

The Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Right released a document calling on the province to improve home care services so seniors can stay in their homes longer 9:20

"The initiative is very clear that we need to make sure that seniors can live at home as long as they're able."

Cassista told Information Morning Moncton that many seniors are reluctant to go to a doctor or a hospital when they should because they are afraid of being admitted and then not permitted to go home.

Cassista said the coalition wants to see a program that would allow seniors who want to, and are able, to stay at home around the clock.

"We've written the minister and we're hoping to have a meeting to have a great dialogue with her and share what we've found in our research in the last six months."

Frustration in system

Cassista said there is frustration among seniors, families and the medical community as they wait for assessments for placements. The issue shifts from one government department to another with no continuity and too many delays.

"It should be very straightforward, take out the red tape and let the professionals do their job so people can go back home and live."

Cassista said seniors' health suffers if they're kept in  hospital simply because they are awaiting assessments. 

The coalition said there are 600 seniors waiting for a nursing home beds in New Brunswick and about 400 are in hospital.

Cassista said keeping people in hospital at $1,000 a day wouldn't make sense if they they could be provided home care 24/7 at a reduced cost.

She admitted the group has not done the calculations on the cost of round-the-clock home care but believes it would be much cheaper.

"I think if they transfer the file to Health, I think that is step No. 1 and basically we can look at standards. We have no standards."

Cassista said home care agencies receive $18.47 an hour from the government to provide home care, and the employees get $13.40. Turnover is high among staff with the agencies because of the low wage.

"The coalition is adamant that we are taking on this one subject to move it forward and we're going to continue working on it until we convince the government that this is the direction that they need to go."

Cassista said the coalition plans to meet with Lisa Harris, minister for seniors and long term care, and with all political parties about the issue.

With files from Information Morning Moncton