Appeal for help nets 55 new workers in long-term care system in a week

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Barb Adams is Nova Scotia's minister of seniors and long-term care. (CBC - image credit)
Barb Adams is Nova Scotia's minister of seniors and long-term care. (CBC - image credit)

A week after putting out the call for help, Nova Scotia's minister responsible for long-term care says the system has added 55 new workers.

Last week, the provincial government called on any continuing care assistants, nurses, occupational therapists or physiotherapists who are retired to consider coming back to work, or for people working part time to consider full-time posts.

Barb Adams told reporters Thursday that the appeal resulted in more than 100 people reaching out, and that 55 of those people are now working in long-term care homes across the province.

"We're hoping that more step forward," she said.

NDP calls for better pay for workers

Adams said it's a small step to assist homes that were struggling to maintain staffing levels even before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived two years ago. Staffing shortages have resulted in some long-term care homes putting a hold on taking new admissions.

"We need thousands of staff, frankly," said Adams.

NDP Leader Gary Burrill said he's pleased to see more people added to the system, but if the government is to achieve its goal of adding the number of people the system requires, one change in particular is necessary.

"We will not solve the problem of staffing in long-term care until we pay people in long-term care in a way that reflects the importance and the difficulty of their work," Burrill told reporters.

Looking at other sources of support

Adams said her department is working with officials in the departments of labour and advanced education to look at moving up the dates for student placements as a way of getting more help into long-term care homes in the short term.

The government announced in December plans to attract more people to the sector, including covering the tuition for 2,200 students in the training program for continuing care assistants.

Adams said her department is working to make the sector's recruiting system more efficient, including ensuring homes have staff dedicated to that effort.

"We don't want nurses and other allied health professionals in long-term care being taken off the floors to do human resources-type management."

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