Nova Scotia

Bus service for seniors ends in Musquodoboit Harbour

Capital Health is no longer subsidizing a weekly bus service for seniors in Musquodoboit Harbour, leaving about 25 people with no way to get around.
Florence Webber says the weekly bus service for seniors in Musquodoboit Harbour made her feel independent. (CBC)

Capital Health is no longer subsidizing a weekly bus service for seniors in Musquodoboit Harbour, leaving about 25 people with no way to get around.

Dot LaPierre was distraught when she heard her regular Thursday outing was about to end.

"My heart went down in my feet. I just couldn't believe it. It just seemed like everything dropped out because a Thursday morning is the Thursday we look forward to," LaPierre said.

For 21 years, the bus has picked up seniors in the Musquodoboit Harbour area. Each rider pays $5 for the day. The group of 25 discusses where the bus will go.

For Florence Webber, the bus service was a way to socialize with other seniors and feel independent.

"At 103, you don't get around as fast, but I enjoy going. I have to have a bit of help because I can't go on my own entirely. I can't get up and down in the bus. But I found it was wonderful just the little errands I could do on my own without bothering anyone else," Webber said.

The bus service was run out of the Birches nursing home. The health district paid a staff person to drive the bus and accompany riders. It cost $9,000 to $10,000 a year for about 10 hours a week.

Nursing home officials are looking for an alternative.

"I'll be looking at that over the next few months and hopefully we'll be able to come up with something that will take this program's place," said Audrey Engberson, with Birches.

Capital Health — Nova Scotia's largest health district — told the nursing home that funding would end on Thursday.

In April, the district approved a business plan to cut spending by $36.2 million over three years. For 2011-12, spending on non-clinical care would be reduced by $4.9 million.

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