Tuesday an “expert panel” released a study into senior care in Nova Scotia.
Is there anything here we didn’t know? Nope.
This situation has been the reality for the decade since my family first faced it and it probably predated our exposure by decades.
The reference to one nurse to 30 residents is curious. Is that the availability of one RN per 30 residents in general or one RN-to-30 residents per shift? I knew of an RN responsible for 110 residents during each overnight shift. One person could barely keep up with the needs of so many people. If there was a medical emergency that requirement put all other residents in jeopardy. Nonetheless, we continue to operate facilities on a hope and prayer that the odds are in favour of short staffing.
In Tuesday’s report, one researcher complained that the province doesn’t have data on staff working long-term care. That’s absurd. The Department of Health could have several staff members take a day to call or email every facility manager in the province asking for specific staffing and resident numbers. We could have those in a day. Failure to have such information should spur the dismissal for cause for whoever is responsible for senior care within the department. Not knowing such numbers shows a willful desire to be conveniently ignorant. It’s the deniability factor health care so often utilizes to cover their shortcomings. The question is who are the Department of Health being ignorant for? Is it for the sake of the political optics around the budget or to aid the commercial interests of facility owners?
Back when the Conservatives formed the government, they had the data to say the province needed 1,800 more long-term care beds. They added 1,000 beds before they were replaced by the NDP. When the NDP formed the government they halted development of new long-term care beds. That seemed to be against the basic tenets of their political philosophy. The Liberals haven’t added any, preferring to service people in their homes, regardless of the cost, inconvenience, impracticability and misunderstanding of what seniors really want.
These studies remind me of an observation by former NDP finance minister Graham Steele. “Politically, studies are useful. Nobody can complain about a government getting more information and expert analysis. Every stakeholder hopes and believes the study, when finished, will see things their way. Best of all, the government has a perfect answer — “We’re looking at it” — to every complaint. For a politician with no clear agenda, that’s gold.”
Nova Scotia’s agenda seems to be to run out the clock. Get the government to the next election and a NSHA bureaucrat to a comfortable retirement – with lucrative consulting contacts enabling them to pop back in long enough to protect their reputation from a more effective and innovative replacement.