Open up more nursing home beds on P.E.I., Opposition demands

The Opposition is urging the P.E.I. government to provide more licences to private nursing homes in the province so that more Island seniors can move into long-term care.

Some beds sitting empty while seniors wait in hospital

Currently, there are 162 people on the list waiting for long-term care beds to open up.

The Opposition is urging the P.E.I. government to provide more licences to private nursing homes in the province so that more Island seniors can move into long-term care.

Government currently provides licences and funding for 1,141 long-term care beds, split between the various private nursing homes and public manors across the province.

Currently there are 162 people waiting for one of those spots to open up, including:

  • 78 waiting at home;
  • 70 waiting in hospital after being medically discharged;
  • 14 waiting in community care facilities, which provide a lower level of care.

"This minister is spending up to $1,200 per person per day for a hospital bed when we could move those seniors to a more appropriate care, improving their situation and reducing health care wait times for everyone," PC MLA Darlene Compton said during question period Thursday.

"Why are you prolonging and worsening the critical situation for Island seniors in our health care system?"

Extra beds, but no license

Some private nursing homes have built extra capacity, but aren't able to use the extra beds they've set up because the province hasn't provided them with licences to do that.

Health and Wellness Minister Robert Henderson said there are more than 50 beds sitting vacant under similar circumstances but it's not simply a matter of allowing them to be filled.

"We have to have some semblance of control here in how many long-term care beds that we have within our system," he said, adding that a review of long-term care in the province is currently underway. That review is expected to be completed in the new year.

"We have to determine how many beds do we need? Where would they possibly be located?" Henderson said.

Adjusting spending

The province has been looking for a more efficient approach to providing health care for seniors. Henderson said the province spends more per capita than other provinces on long-term care, and less than other provinces on more affordable home care.

"I think that balance may need to be re-adjusted," he said.

He also said there are budgetary limits on how many people the province can support in long-term care.

New manors same size as the old manors

The Opposition also questioned government's decade-long program to rebuild nine provincially-owned manors, replacing them with facilities with the same capacity.

"I've heard it on the doorsteps, I've heard it on the phone that the manor replacement program that's currently in place is simply replacing new beds with old beds," said PC Leader James Aylward.

"Where is your forward-looking vision in replacing manors with the same number of beds when the demand for long-term care is simply growing?"