New Brunswick has the largest proportion of seniors in Canada and this percentage will increase in the coming years. While this is a challenge to the system, it is also an opportunity to deliver more effective and sustainable long-term care services to improve the quality of life for all seniors in the province.
In 2016, government named a Council on Aging to develop an aging strategy for New Brunswick. A few months later, the Premier appointed a Minister of Seniors and Long-Term Care. In 2017, fostering healthy aging and support for seniors was chosen as one of the key pillars in the New Brunswick Family Plan, which aims to improve the lives of all New Brunswickers by addressing the factors that are the biggest determinations of overall health.
Three initiatives in particular have an overall impact on healthy aging and support for seniors.
- Implementing actions to support the Home First and Aging strategies in order to improve access to home and community-based supports, as well as better integration of health and social care services and an enhanced focus on prevention and well-being.
- Improving long term care assessments to ensure seniors are evaluated in an efficient manner and within an appropriate amount of time.
- Enhancing client assessments for residential placements to ensure placement options respond to the increasingly complex needs of seniors.
The Department of Social Development’s 2017-18 budget includes $532.9 million in spending related to senior care. This includes more than $2.3 million in new funding to enhance the long-term care assessment process. The department will also invest more than $56 million over the next three years on construction, maintenance and improvements to New Brunswick’s nursing homes.
- The nursing home system is in the final phase of rolling out a new resident assessment tool that will result in improvements in the management and care of nursing home residents.
- In 2016, the department invested $10 million more to increase per diems to special care homes and memory care homes in New Brunswick along with family support agencies and adult development activities.
- This investment paved the way for a $1 per hour wage hike for human services sector workers who look after the province’s most vulnerable.
As well, the government invested $5.5 million in 2016 into the province-wide expansion of the Rapid Rehabilitation and Reablement (R & R) program.
- This program helps seniors who have been medically discharged from hospitals but can’t go home without intensive rehabilitation and support services.
- It also allows seniors to stay in designated special care homes while they recover from surgery or illness.
The Government of New Brunswick also invested $600,000 for a study of antipsychotic mediation and dementia.
- This issue is of particular importance in New Brunswick, which has among the highest rates of antipsychotic medication use in the elderly. In 2013, the rate of this medication use was nearly two times higher in the province than in the rest of Canada.
- This initiative will reduce the use of antipsychotic medications, which not only saves money on drug costs, but reduces future costs on related side effects such as falls, increased incidence of stroke, and transfers by ambulance to hospitals.
- The funding will be used to provide learning and coaching to help nursing home staff identify residents who may benefit from non-drug therapies to treat behavioural issues associated with dementia.
- In 2016, 15 nursing homes participated in the project. It is being expanded province-wide in 2017.
Updated: August 2017
MEDIA CONTACT(S): Anne Mooers, communications, Social Development, (506) 444-3494, firstname.lastname@example.org