New Nova Scotia legislation would prevent separating couples in long-term care

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The Nova Scotia government has introduced legislation aimed at making it easier for couples to stay together when they are in long-term care.

Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey says couples should be able to be together even if one person may need a different level of care.

Under the current law, if partners need different levels of long-term care, they are often separated.

READ MORE: Bob Layton: Long-term care centres should keep senior couples together

The new legislation would allow couples to be placed together at the highest care level required, meaning in cases where one spouse requires nursing home care and one requires residential care, the couple would be placed in a nursing home.

Delorey says the government will work with Veterans Affairs Canada to ensure the right also applies to spouses of veterans.

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The change will apply to couples as defined in the act for admission to one of the 132 long-term care homes licensed and funded by the province.

READ MORE: Calgary couple forced to live apart after 66 years together because care home won’t take them both

Nova Scotia has struggled with a shortage of long-term care beds, however Delorey said the new legislation isn’t expected to add extra stress to the system.

“We don’t necessarily have a lot of occurrences of this … so we believe this change won’t have an impact on the current system,” Delorey said.

According to the province, 2,588 Nova Scotians entered long-term care in 2018-19, with 2,302 going to nursing homes and 286 to residential care facilities.

READ MORE: London widow voices support for proposed changes to long-term care bill of rights

NDP Leader Gary Burrill is supporting legislation he calls sensible.

“We want to have a law that allows people who are organizing long-term care facilities to use their own good sensible judgment in particular cases,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2020.


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