Nova Scotia

Long-term care funding in N.S. will improve infection control, says industry

Many of the improvements in Nova Scotia's long-term care homes will mean residents no longer have to share a room with someone else, or share a washroom with up to three other residents.

N.S. government has announced 27 projects that will create or improve more than 2,800 long-term care beds

Kendra Baldwin, CEO of Maple Hill Manor in New Waterford, N.S., says provincial funding will enable residents to have their own rooms and eliminate the need to share washrooms. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Those in Nova Scotia's long-term care industry say new funding for facility renovations and construction is long overdue and will help reduce the spread of infections in the institutions.

This week, the province said it would borrow up to $1.8 billion to build or renovate 24 of 27 long-term care homes. The remaining three projects have funding already in place. 

Many of the improvements will mean residents no longer have to share a room with someone else, or share a washroom with up to three other residents.

"If COVID taught us anything, it taught us that that's not acceptable," said Kendra Baldwin, CEO of Maple Hill Manor in New Waterford. "Our residents deserve better standards of living."

The 63-bed Maple Hill Manor is one of the facilities approved for new construction.

It will be expanded to 64 beds, but the biggest change will be the elimination of semi-private rooms and shared washrooms, Baldwin said.

Michele Lowe, executive director of the Nursing Homes of Nova Scotia Association, says the government is helping remove the conditions that led to COVID-19 outbreaks in some facilities. (CBC)

Last month, the list of long-term care facilities dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks grew to 39.

Michele Lowe, executive director of the Nursing Homes of Nova Scotia Association, said the new funding is welcome and will help remove some of the conditions that made those outbreaks possible.

"Unfortunately, it takes apparently a tragedy and the pandemic to really shine the spotlight on the gaps in long-term care in this province and actually across the country," she said.

"Decades of underfunding and a lack of investment has certainly come to roost and we're now seeing a government that is taking that commitment seriously and wanting to invest in a very important piece to our health-care system here in Nova Scotia."

The non-profit society that operates Maple Hill Manor is planning to build a block away from its current location on the site where the old Mount Carmel Elementary School once stood.

Cape Breton Regional Municipality is working with the Catholic diocese to acquire several parcels of land nearby that will then be combined into one for the new care home.

The new build will come with many improvements for residents, said Baldwin.

Rooms in Maple Hill Manor are semi-private, with a curtain divider and shared washroom facilities with the occupants of an adjacent semi-private room. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

The existing building has a good view of the ocean from the front, but the courtyard in back is surrounded by other buildings.

"Part of the [new] design is every resident has a view, so they have a view of a courtyard [and] green space ... [and] that doesn't happen in a building that's 45 years old," she said.

Rooms for two occupants are currently about 192 square feet, with very little room for visitors or personal belongings, Baldwin said.

According to the province, there are 1,946 people on a waiting list to get into long-term care, including 283 who are waiting in a hospital.

The new space in New Waterford will provide room to grow in the future and with an aging population, that's important, Baldwin said.

The site of the former Mount Carmel Elementary School in New Waterford will provide plenty of space for an expanded Maple Hill Manor and leave room to grow, says Baldwin. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

"I know people in other facilities that want to come to Maple Hill, that Maple Hill may be their top choice," she said.

"Sometimes they can wait up to two years to get a transfer here, so I believe the beds are needed and it's important for people to stay in their own community."

Baldwin said everyone is excited and grateful for the provincial funding.

"We didn't even have to do any of the legwork," she said.

"The government had recognized the need and I think COVID was kind of what spearheaded all of that, so it's amazing that they're putting money behind these facilities that are in so desperate need of this private space for our residents."

Sydney facility also building new

The R.C. MacGillivray Guest Home in Sydney is also getting a new build.

The 83-bed facility will grow to 96 beds and will also eliminate shared rooms and washrooms, said CEO Jody Gentile.

"We're in a building right now that's 55 years old, so we're very excited," she said. "For us, it's a huge, huge improvement."

Both the MacGillivray and Maple Hill homes are currently in the design phase, so neither has received a cost estimate yet.

The full list of facilities getting renovations or new builds includes:

  • Mahone in Mahone Bay.
  • Villa Acadienne in Meteghan.
  • Kiknu Long-Term Care Facility in Eskasoni.
  • Taigh Solas in North Sydney.
  • Waterford Heights in New Waterford.
  • Grandview Manor in Berwick.
  • Mountain Lea Lodge in Bridgetown.
  • Shoreham Village in Chester Basin.
  • Northwood in Fall River.
  • The Birches in Musquodoboit Harbour.
  • Foyer Pere Fiset in Chéticamp.
  • R.C. MacGillivray Guest Home in Sydney.
  • Queens Manor/Hillsview Acres in Liverpool.
  • Dykeland Lodge in Windsor.
  • Carefield Guest Home/Dominion Guest Home in Glace Bay.
  • Harbour View Haven in Lunenburg.
  • Wolfville Nursing Home in Wolfville.
  • Gables Lodge in Amherst.
  • Melville Lodge in Halifax.
  • Glen Haven in New Glasgow.
  • Victoria Haven in Glace Bay.
  • R.K. MacDonald Nursing Home in Antigonish.
  • Valley View Villa in Stellarton.
  • Highland Manor in Neils Harbour.
  • St. Anne's Community and Nursing Care Centre in Arichat.
  • Roseway Nursing Home in Shelburne.
  • Maple Hill Manor in New Waterford.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Ayers

Reporter/Editor

Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for 36 years. He has spent half of them covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at tom.ayers@cbc.ca.

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