SAINT JOHN (GNB) – New initiatives that will help seniors stay in their homes for as long as possible are included in the new provincial health-care plan, Stabilizing Health Care: An Urgent Call to Action.

“Currently, nearly one in three hospital beds are occupied by seniors who could be experiencing a better quality of life if they had access to services tailored to their specific needs,” said Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch. “This program will help ensure seniors have improved access to the health and social support they need to live as independently as possible for as long as possible.”

Fitch announced today, during an event at Loch Lomond Villa in Saint John, that supporting seniors to age in place, meaning at their homes, is one of the five action areas outlined in the government’s health plan.

“We need to take action to help our seniors, both in their homes and in the community,” said Health Minister Dorothy Shephard. “We know that seniors value their independence. This plan will help prevent many people from unnecessarily being admitted to the hospital and forced to spend time away from their loved ones.”

The new provincial health plan includes:

  • an expansion of the Nursing Homes Without Walls program to 16 additional locations over the next two years;
  • a partnership with the Extra-Mural Program to partner with 20 special care homes over the next two years to provide clinical services and technology for routine follow-up appointments, so seniors do not have to leave their home unnecessarily; and
  • the inclusion of long-term care staff on discharge teams in at least 10 hospitals across the province by early 2023 to help seniors transition back home after a hospital stay, with appropriate plans for their ongoing care.

Fitch said the Nursing Homes Without Walls program was funded through the Healthy Seniors Pilot Project and has been successful in four locations in southeastern New Brunswick and the Acadian Peninsula. The program extends some of the services available in nursing homes to seniors who are still living at home. The Healthy Seniors Pilot Project is a $75-million partnership with the federal government aimed at supporting government and community initiatives that align with and support the efforts of New Brunswick’s Aging Strategy and other government priorities, including researchers, non-profit organizations, businesses, First Nations communities and municipalities.

“There are many benefits to aging in place and the majority of older adults want to remain living at home,” said Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard, director of the Centre for Aging Research at l’Université de Moncton. “It is important that services and support be available, accessible and responsive to meet the needs of older adults, support caregivers and create age-friendly communities.”

The health plan includes additional initiatives that will benefit seniors, such as providing tablets in special care homes to connect seniors with loved ones and address loneliness; and increasing the services provided by nursing homes to seniors in the community to help combat social isolation.

This week, the provincial government will release its new health plan which will outline a path forward, intended to stabilize and rebuild New Brunswick’s health-care system to be more citizen-focused, efficient, accountable, inclusive and service-oriented.