December 8, 2015 11:30 am

Family calls for immediate government action on improving seniors’ care

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RIVERVIEW, N.B. – When 84-year-old May Hood goes to visit her 99-year-old step mother in The Moncton Hospital, she doesn’t know what room, or hallway, she’s going to find her in.

“She’s not very happy and she’s sleeping a lot because she just wants to blank everything out,” Hood said from her Riverview apartment.

READ MORE: New Brunswick seniors’ care to be discussed

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Hood’s step-mother, Muriel Copeland, has been in the hospital for four months, waiting for a spot in a nursing home.

It’s a situation that’s been hard on Hood.

“What can I say, she’s very dear to me. She’s been my step mother since 1955, that’s a long time. She’s, she just, everybody loves her.”

Long waits an ongoing issue

In 2015, so far, the percentage of alternate-level of care patients in hospital beds remains high. At the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton, 20.5 per cent of beds are used by alternate level of care, ALC, patients.

At The Moncton Hospital, it’s 18.1 per cent.

READ MORE: Premier Brian Gallant discusses assets policy with seniors groups

Horizon Health confirmed there has been one cancelled surgery at the Chalmers hospital between June and October because of the availability of an Intensive Care Unit bed.

Last week, Horizon’s CEO John McGarry was asked his opinion on ALC patients in hospitals who are waiting for a space, to be relocated.

McGarry said there have been some suggestions on what could help with hospital congestion, but at this point, it’s just a discussion.

“I think everyone keeps looking for the silver bullet, and there isn’t one. There is no one solution to this multi-complex problem,” said Jodi Hall, Director of Operations at the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes.

Association wants change

The Association has been saying, for sometime, that it’s going to take a combination of factors to make a difference, including, getting New Brunswickers involved at the grassroots level.

“It’s going to take a whole lot of different opportunities, both short and long-term being, developed and implemented with serious policy behind it, to support it, in order for us to get on the path that we need to,” she said.

“So simply building more nursing home beds is not the solution. Simply opening up all of the empty beds that are in the other residential care sectors and staffing them differently, that’s not going to do it either.”

READ MORE: Some New Brunswick seniors to pay higher fees for nursing home care

While they’ve had the opportunity to say this at October’s Aging Summit that was held in Moncton, the Association says neither the Department of Social Development, or Health, or the two regional health authorities, have formally reached out to ask them for help.

Hall is hoping to have that change when the government finalizes their council on aging.

The Department of Social Development is asking for expressions of interest to be involved on the council. Applications are due before Monday.

The Department says they are hoping to unveil the council early in the new year.

But that’s not soon enough for Hood, or her step mother.

“They knew this years ago. They should have done it years ago,” she said.

© 2015 Shaw Media

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