The Houston government has announced a multi-year plan to build an additional 2,200 nursing home beds across Nova Scotia.
Currently about 2,000 Nova Scotians are waiting for placement in long-term care — 300 of those people are in hospital and the other 1,700 are in communities. The majority are receiving some home care support.
The 2,200 new beds will be built over nine years and include 800 new single rooms with bathrooms and 1,400 replacement or renovated single rooms in existing facilities. Monday’s announcement builds on an announcement made in January when the province announced the construction of 3,500 new or replacement single rooms with private bathrooms.
“We’re investing in communities across the province to make sure that Nova Scotians have the security they need as they age,” Seniors and Long-term Care Minister Barbara Adams said during an announcement Monday.
“These 5,700 new and replacement rooms will mean that seniors can live with dignity and enjoy high-quality care in comfortable surroundings. By investing in long-term care, we are also reducing the pressure on our hospitals and emergency rooms, which translates into better health care for everyone.”
The 5,700 number mentioned by the minister includes the rooms announced Monday as well as rooms announced last January. By 2030, it’s estimated that 25% of Nova Scotia’s population will be over the age of 65. One new nursing home — the Villa Acadienne — has opened in the Municipality of Clare.
Thirty-four nursing homes are currently in the process of replacing existing rooms; the first single rooms are expected to be ready in 2025. As many as 3,500 new or renovated rooms are targeted to open by 2027.
You can learn about the timelines and progress reports for the facilities in each health zone here.
Lack of staff barrier to meeting demand
Officials with the Department of Seniors and Long-term Care told reporters the purpose of developing a nine-year timetable is to spread out the building and the staffing of the new facilities. Human resources are a constraint on meeting the demand.
Adams said population estimates will be reviewed annually to determine if and where more rooms will be required in the future.
Of the 800 new rooms announced Monday, three tenders have been awarded in Halifax Regional Municipality where the waiting list is longest. Gem will add a 48-room expansion to its care home in Tantallon. Shannex Inc. has been awarded contracts to build two new 144-bed facilities in Bedford — one on Seton Drive near Mount Saint Vincent University and the other on Starboard Drive.
Adams said more nursing home announcements will be made in different communities across the province over the next several weeks.
An official with the department estimates the cost to build and operate one new nursing home bed for a year is $160,000. This includes mortgage and staffing costs paid to the operator of the long-term care facility.
The estimated cost (in today’s dollars) to build 800 new beds is $128 million. Renovations are less expensive with a ballpark for that construction estimated at $56 million.