Wait times for home-care services in Nova Scotia will be reduced as the province pumps more money into home-nursing programs and four new nursing clinics, Health Minister Leo Glavine said Wednesday.
Glavine made the pledge at a news conference that spelled out details of how the government will spend the $14 million in additional funding it set aside in its spring budget for home-care and home-support services for seniors.
In particular, Glavine said an additional $4.2 million has been set aside for home-nursing and for four nursing clinics operated by the Victorian Order of Nurses in Halifax, Berwick, New Minas and Bridgewater.
Glavine said the clinics will help save money and reduce wait times because nurses at the clinics will be able to care for more patients in one location.
“That way, we won’t have each nurse driving kilometres and seeing less patients in a day,” he said, adding that the province also plans to hire more continuing-care assistants for home-care.
“We will see how these four clinics work out. Every indication is that this is a positive way of delivering care … For some patients, they don’t have the mobility and they don’t have transportation. This will not work for everyone.”
Glavine said the new clinics, which are already in operation, represent a step forward for an beleaguered organization.
“It’s no secret that, nationally, VON has run into problems,” Glavine said. “Our hope is that, with us working with VON, we’ll keep VON here for nursing and home-support, and keep it viable.”
In November 2015, the Victorian Order of Nurses announced that it was ceasing operations in six provinces and decreasing the size of its head office in Ottawa as part of a major restructuring.
VON Canada, the largest home- and community-health-care charity in Canada, said it would focus its efforts on Ontario and Nova Scotia, which it described as its principal service areas.
The new clinics in Nova Scotia are being used by people referred by health-care providers, but only if they are mobile and prefer scheduled appointments.
Glavine said the extra funding in the budget also includes $7.4 million for home-support services, like bathing, meal preparation and other daily tasks. And another $1.2 million has been added to the caregiver benefit program, which supports family members who care for loved ones at home.
The province says more than 14,000 Nova Scotians receive home-care or home-support services, programs that cost a total of $255 million each year – an increase of $59.1 million in the past three years.