Changes to long-term care policies will ensure more timely access and make better use of the province’s long-term care beds for those with the greatest need. There are 2,485 Nova Scotians currently on the waitlist for long-term care, however, many of them are not ready to accept a bed in their preferred facility when it is offered, causing people who need the care and are ready, to wait longer. “Changes are clearly needed to address the growing waitlist, especially for those people whose care needs are greatest,” said Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine. “Right now, we have primarily a first-come, first-served waitlist for long-term care, while other areas of the health system are prioritized by need. That’s the direction we need to move toward.” Starting March 2, there will be new criteria to ensure efforts have been made to better support people in their homes or communities before seeking long-term care placement. People now on the waitlist have the option of turning down a placement in their preferred facility when a spot becomes available. Under a new policy, people must be willing to accept the bed. Other changes include implementing new standards in the placement process to reduce vacant bed days, and introducing oversight to ensure consistency in decision-making across the province. Government also commissioned a report by Mount Saint Vincent University’s Centre on Aging. Home to Nursing Home: Understanding Factors that Impact the Path Seniors Take, indicates that 50 per cent of survey respondents would not accept a long-term care bed if offered one tomorrow. “We can make these changes now, in large part, because of the investments made in home care and other continuing-care programs over the past few years,” said Mr. Glavine. “We know people want to stay in their homes for as long as they can, and they should have access to the care they need in the right setting.” Over the coming months, government will establish a new approach to prioritizing people on the waitlist based on their needs. There are more than 7,800 long-term care beds in the province. Last year about 2,900 Nova Scotians were placed in long-term care, while around 530 people deferred placement. For more information on policy changes or to download a copy of the Home to Nursing Home Report, visit http://novascotia.ca/DHW .