Local non-profit nursing homes are dealing with the repercussions of a second round of budget cuts in two years under the provincial Liberal government.
Four local homes have been affected by these cuts including three non-profit and one privately owned nursing home.
Valley View Villa in Riverton is among the non-profit homes that will see a $37,175 cut this year alone, amounting to one per cent of their operating budget.
“Valley View Villa, like other long term care facilities in Nova Scotia, received a budget reduction in 2015-16 that was aimed directly at our equipment allowance allocation – it was reduced by 50 per cent,” explained Emily MacEachern, home administrator.
“In previous years, the funding was set at $356 per bed and was reduced to $178 per bed. For our home, of 112 permanent beds, that was a reduction of $19,936. This fund is used to obtain replacement equipment of various nature-from bed alarms to food preparation equipment.”
In the same year, the home’s operating budget was reduced by $47,125.
“This reduction was defined by the Department of Health and Wellness. Options provided to nursing homes at that time was group purchasing. Along with the equipment allowance reduction, the total budget reduction for Valley View Villa in 2015-16 was near $67,000. That equated to a six per cent reduction to operations and equipment allowance,” notes MacEachern.
Because of this reduction, Valley View Villa is reporting a deficit for the year end of March 2016.
Now the Liberal government has announced an additional one per cent overall budget funding reduction amounting to the $37,175, listed above, for this year, which brings the total cut to eight per cent.
“Valley View Villa recognizes the efforts of government to evolve home care as it is clearly needed, however, nursing homes are needed as well. No one dreams of living their last days in a nursing home, but at Valley View Villa, we pride ourselves in creating a home-like environment because the residents who live with us are clearly here because they need to be. Our staff, management and board of directors strive to make our “institution” a happy home for the residents who live here-this is our reason for operating. “
MacEachern says the board and management are all very concerned about the impact on the quality of care the residents will receive and how staff deliver these reductions.
“In an effort to find savings to deal with the reductions, Valley View Villa is exploring internal management restructure, shared services, group purchasing and procurement.”
Glen Haven Manor was also hit hard with this funding reduction, seeing a $67,307 reduction this year.
“Neither the budget cuts of November 2015 nor the most recent reductions announced were insignificant in terms of Glen Haven Manor’s overall operating budget,” explains Lisa Smith, CEO.
“These cumulative cuts present real and clear challenges in terms of our day-to-day operations and our ability to offer the same services with reduced funding. However, these cuts will not impact Glen Haven Manor’s focus and commitment to providing exceptional, individualized, quality care to our residents.”
Mike Archibald, administrator at the Maritime Oddfellow’s Home, the third non-profit home affected in this area, shares the sentiment.
“The budget cut identified for our home is only a portion of the whole cut we experienced for the current year. In fact, our cut is 70 per cent higher than what is showing in the NDP FOIPOP; we experienced a $46,000 reduction in our budget for the current year on top of a similar cut in the previous year. In the last two fiscal years these cuts reflect over 13 per cent of our operations budget, the only area where our home can reduce spending,” he explains.
Archibald refers to a study which has shown homes that provide a more home-like atmosphere significantly increase the quality of life for residents.
“These two years of consecutive cuts go straight to the core of how homes promote home-likeness. Our home has struggled for many years to operate within the budget received from the Department of Health and Wellness. Budgets started being cut last year and again this year in an environment where other costs are significantly increasing (except for heating oil); having two per cent of our budget taken away forces us to tighten spending in all areas … this is very hard when we know this has such a negative impact on the quality of life for the residents for which we care.”
Both the Maritime Oddfellows Home and Valley View Villa have an extensive waiting list for residency which is managed by the Department of Health and Wellness.
High Crest Place in New Glasgow, privately owned, was also affected by the cuts with a $15,500 reduction this year. Administrator Marcus Stephenson could not be reached for comment.