Last week a room full of seniors at the Sackville Heights Community Centre in Sackville were none too pleased about having their Bingo game interrupted by Minister of Health Dave Wilson. Their frustration was eased a little when they found out the news was good news.
Wilson, who is also MLA for Sackville-Cobequid, announced on Sept. 20 that the province is investing $2.5 million to address a longstanding wait list in the Halifax area. The province will also increase home support services across the province with an investment of $1.5 million over the next two years.
“We realize how important it is for Nova Scotians to stay in their homes as long as possible,” said Wilson. “And some people need help to do that.”
Wilson went on to say the investment would allow more people faster access for personal care, meal preparations, caregiver respite and house keeping. The idea is to ensure seniors can live safely, comfortably and independently in their homes as long as possible.
“It is no secret our demographics are changing,” said Wilson. “We have an older population and we need to keep pace with the growing demands.”
Eighty-three-year-old Jim Lotz from Halifax understands how demanding it can be to stay at home to care for a loved one. His wife Pat was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2007 and he cared for her until her death seven months ago.
“She was in a nursing home for a while,” said Lotz. “But when I went to see her she was diminished. She was taken care of and fed, but she just walked around in a dressing gown. I retrieved her from there and swore I would look after her...and I did.”
Loltz said he was happy to hear that some of the invested money will go toward giving caregivers the break they need.
“The six hours a week I had when a respite caregiver would come was like a holiday,” he said. “I could just breathe.”
Seventy-two year old Joan Janes from Sackville said she is happy about the news, but is concerned that people with middle-class income may not benefit.
“It just seems that if you have no money you get help,” she said. “And if you have enough money you don’t need help, but when you’re in between all you hear is ‘no’.”
Hammonds Plains - Upper Sackville MLA Mat Whynott, who was also on hand for the announcement said any senior in this province is eligible for home care.
“The amount they receive is prorated based on their income,” he said.