Healthcare Media release

News release: Primary care access must be available to all current or future nursing home residents

December 6, 2019

For immediate release

The ACE (Advocates for the Care of the Elderly) Team is very concerned that the government is not taking seriously the recently revealed requirements by some nursing homes for residents or would-be residents to have a doctor in order to stay in a nursing home or to be admitted.  They feel such a requirement would be a major step backwards for long-term care in Nova Scotia.

According to ACE Team Chair Gary MacLeod, “In our opinion, allowing such a requirement to remain in place would violate the fundamental fiduciary responsibility of a nursing home to provide nursing home care to current or future residents.  It would set a dangerous precedent to prevent people from receiving the care they need.”

MacLeod noted he was involved in setting up a pilot program called “Care By Design” in the central zone. Under this program, family doctors were assigned to a single floor in a nursing home and were expected to participate with an actively engaged team of patients, families and members of an interdisciplinary team to deliver the best care. “We understood earlier that this program was under review for a possible expansion to other facilities and parts of the program.  We want to know why this program couldn’t be in place to help address the very problems now being raised.”

He said he has no problem with making nurse practitioners more accessible to nursing home residents, as reportedly proposed by the Minister. “We want to see all possible steps taken to revitalize and expand the Care By Design Program”.

MacLeod concluded by saying he wants to see the Department to stop any nursing home from requiring residents or would-be residents to have a doctor, and to take steps such as Care By Design to ensure everyone will have access to the primary care they need.  “Advance long-term planning could have prevented this problem from ever arising in the first place. We also believe it is long overdue for the government to look at bringing long-term care into the public health care system and making it an insured service or set of services.”

The ACE Team was started in 2006. It is composed of concerned family members who are appalled by the deteriorating quality of care in nursing homes, and who also want to improve the overall standard of living for the elderly.

For more information, contact:

Gary MacLeod, Chair, ACE Team,