FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government introduced legislation today that would provide more notice before nursing home residents are discharged. If approved, the notification period would be extended to 30 days from 15.

“Caring for seniors is a priority for our government, and we regularly review our programs to make sure they reflect the needs of that sector and the residents served within it,” said Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch. “The department is proposing changes to improve the resident discharge policy to make sure that residents of long-term care facilities are better protected.”

The Nursing Homes Act currently requires 15-days’ notice be provided to the resident, their next-of-kin and/or their legal representative prior to being discharged. This legislation was introduced to address concerns expressed by the public and stakeholders over the past year.

“Discharging a resident from a long-term care facility is always a last resort,” said Fitch. “The Department of Social Development and nursing homes make every effort to ensure that the needs of residents are met within our system. A discharge is generally the exception and only occurs when all other options have been exhausted.”

The government also proposes adding a provision to the act that a resident can only be discharged from a nursing home under the circumstances detailed in the act’s regulation.

“The fact that, until now, there has been no limit on allowable reasons for discharge has been an area of concern among stakeholders,” said Fitch. “Any discharge of nursing home residents will have to fit within the circumstances to be prescribed by regulation.”

A proposed addition to the regulation, outlining the list of allowable circumstances for discharge, will be posted online in the coming weeks. It will remain there for 28 days to allow an opportunity for public feedback.