Ensuring safe and caring homes for our most vulnerable. A message from Sheila Peck, Chair, Continuing Care Association of Nova Scotia

The recent news (CBC: Reports reveal 46 abuse cases over two years in Nova Scotia nursing homes, October 24, 2017) that questions the very safety and well-being of people in care in our province is disheartening and, in my view, unacceptable. As an Administrator of a Long Term Care facility for many years, I know how hard the staff and volunteers here in Nova Scotia work every day to care for our most vulnerable. I know how much they care.

I served on the Advisory Committee for the Persons in Protection of Care Act 10 years ago. This Act was established with sector input. We all had the same goal -- to protect the people in our care. Unfortunately, there are still incidents that happen but with implementation of the Act, we are catching them, they are being investigated, and we are learning from them. As a facility licenced by the Department of Health and Wellness, I can assure you we have very stringent policies and regulations that must be followed and we take them seriously.

The reality is that years of budget cuts to our homes compounded with the lack of predictable, sustainable funding from one year to the next, is taking its toll. One of the first budget cuts has been to education. At a time when our population is aging, and people are coming to us with extremely complex care needs, education and training has never been more critical. 

I have witnessed amazing acts of love, kindness and deep caring from the staff who work and care for our most vulnerable citizens. Nursing home jobs in all departments are mentally and physically taxing. By the time a senior now enters long term care they are very frail and require much more care than seniors 10 years ago. As we deal with a large demographic of seniors, several with dementia, as well as younger people with complex mental and physical health issues, we owe it to our staff to provide them with the necessary tools and training to do their jobs. At the same time we want to attract youth to pursue a career in this very meaningful and valuable sector.

I speak on behalf of the Continuing Care Association of Nova Scotia when I say it is time we work together with government, educators, facilities, their staff, volunteers, our seniors and their families, and communities across our province, to find innovative, progressive and thoughtful ways to ensure our most vulnerable citizens receive the quality care they deserve. 

It is time to create a culture of support, continuous learning, and continuous improvement amongst all working in the sector. 

CCANS supports its members by providing education and advocacy. As an organization that encompasses clients from the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness and the Department of Community Services, we welcome the opportunity to work with government and our facilities to provide a safe and caring environment for all who need it. 

I encourage families to continue to be actively engaged and to be advocates for your loved ones. We need your support so that we can work together to ensure they have a place to call home. 

Sincerely,

Sheila Peck, Chair, CCANS