A collective will can help transform long-term care

Opinion

To the Editor:

Long-term care is under the microscope and in the spotlight, and the exactly where we in the sector want it and need it to be. The nursing homes, unions, and our provincial association have been unified yet unheard voices pleading for more investment and changes for many years. During this global pandemic, there has been the “great reveal” for Canada; indeed, for many countries, and agreement among all stakeholders that we must do and invest more. Yet reports, after reports, after papers have yielded the same information. We must move forward from recommendations to immediate action.

At Glen Haven Manor, we consistently make the point to all who will listen, that our residents and all residents in long-term care across this great country, deserve solutions right now — not next week, or next year but today. It is essential that Nova Scotia fast tracks an action plan and produces results for our residents living in long-term care today and the devoted, skilled staff who are their care providers. Glen Haven is immersed in three solutions that we are confident will have meaningful impact and when fully embraced by our provincial and federal leaders will make significant differences for long-term care not only throughout Nova Scotia but across Canada. We have officially presented these solutions to provincial and federal elected officials and are excited at the prospect to advance this work with many partners and leaders across the province and country.

We must empower provincial jurisdictions to become stronger and collaborate as provinces, territories and combine all available resources as a nation. We must be there for our elders and most vulnerable with every fibre of our being, honouring and protecting them as they have done for us. We must respect and celebrate this great generation and define our own generation by these actions. Needs identified over and over again, such as critical, long standing labour shortages; the lack of value, respect and proper remuneration for those working in the sector and sustainable quality of life options for older adults are all addressed in the solutions proposal we presented to our provincial and federal leaders. This proposal takes the “whats” and turns them into the “hows” — addressing labour gaps through progressive global recruitment of highly qualified refugees; the creation of a blueprint for the role of continuing care assistant to be elevated by enhancing and rewarding their credentials and finally creating a world class sustainable community model to address isolation, loneliness, inclusion and ageism through intergenerational and continuing care collaborations with nursing homes at the heart of this model.

These tangible solutions will set the stage for the other important changes and improvements that must also take place, by addressing the most profound gaps first, both proficiently and resourcefully. Our pandemic preparedness plan at Glen Haven is based on the pillars of vigilance, diligence and compassion. Let us as a province and as a nation put our words into actions with these same values and commitment! When we have the “collective will” to make this happen, it will be transformational. The endorsement and embracing of our solutions can begin a life changing chapter where our elders, the most vulnerable and long-term care in Nova Scotia as well as every province and territory across the true north strong and free are guaranteed the dignity and investment necessary to truly flourish.

Lisa M. Smith

CEO of Glen Haven Manor