Tignish woman circulates petition asking for more long-term care beds

A Tignish, P.E.I., woman has started a petition asking the province to review its long-term care facilities to consider adding beds, staff and building expansions.

Mary Ann Nelligan, 78, collecting signatures after husband waits 10 months for long-term care

Mary Ann Nelligan says her husband needs a bed in a long-term care facility. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

A Tignish, P.E.I., woman has started a petition asking the province to review its long-term care facilities to consider adding beds, staff and building expansions. 

Mary Ann Nelligan, 78, has collected more than 1,600 signatures since she began collecting them Dec. 3.

Nelligan's husband, Richard, is in Western Hospital in Alberton, P.E.I. He's been waiting 10 months for a long-term care bed.

Her petition is focused especially on beds at the Maplewood Manor in Alberton, and the Margaret Stewart Ellis Home in O'Leary. Maplewood was replaced in 2011. Margaret Stewart Ellis was expanded in 2012.

"It's very sad because he should be in a home where he can be looked after and have more things going on," said Nelligan.

Nelligan is collecting signatures in Tignish, Alberton and O'Leary. 

She and Richard had been living in a seniors' home in Tignish, but Nelligan says her husband's dementia requires care not available there.

Mary Ann Nelligan visits her husband Richard in Western Hospital, where he has been waiting for a long-term care bed for 10 months. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Wait times vary

That has added to the challenge of finding an appropriate place in a long-term care facility, according to Nelligan.

"What I would really like to do is to add on to the manor in Alberton," said Nelligan. "A lot of people have said they should have built it twice as big."

Wait times for beds in long-term care facilities can vary, according to Health PEI.

It's hard work and I've been working hard- Mary Ann Nelligan

"The average wait time to access long-term care from hospital varies from one patient to another depending on the type of long-term care bed a patient needs (a standard bed vs. a dementia care bed) and the bed availability at the desired long-term care home," according to a written statement from Andrew MacDougall, Health PEI's director of long-term care.

"The need for other health care support may also influence a person's wait," said MacDougall.

Health PEI says it has added beds and staff to long-term care facilities province-wide.

The number of Islanders waiting for long-term care placement has decreased by 25 per cent over the past four years, according to Health PEI.

Aiming for 2,000 signatures

Mary Ann Nelligan and her grown children take turns visiting Richard Nelligan in Western Hospital. He enjoys cards and watching TV. When not at the hospital, Mary Ann collects signatures.

She said she will present the petition to her local MLA when she has 2,000 signatures. 

"I'll have a talk with him, see what he'll do with it. But I hope he'll do something because it's hard work, and I've been working hard," said Nelligan.

Nelligan's MLA, Liberal member Hal Perry, contacted CBC by email Friday afternoon. 

"I actually asked the Minister during this past session in the legislature about the number of beds and the number waiting for beds in West Prince," he wrote. "Also, I asked if the gov't would be willing to meet with the board of directors of the Tignish Coop Seniors Home with respect to adding a wing to the facility to accommodate long term care. This is something that I would love to see happen!"