Kelly Murray, a long-term care co-ordinator for the Canadian Union of Public Employees, estimated Thursday the shortage of personal care workers/continuing care assistants across the province may be as high as 1,000 workers.
"If we can't keep up the complement of employees and we keep putting the onus on existing staff we are compounding the problem," he
"People are not getting the care they are suppose to get (and) employees are getting burned out."Murray
said the shortage becomes more evident when nursing home staff are falling sick and there aren't enough replacements.
The Nova Scotia government has announced an ambitious $74-million strategy to build new nursing homes and add 832 new long-term care beds in 32 communities by 2010. Murray
said there has been a continuing problem in recent years recruiting new nursing home workers that could be eased by changes in the way they are trained.He
said the $9,000 cost of taking a personal care worker/continuing care assistant course is too high, even though some employers are offering bursaries.
"When people see that they say â€˜I can't afford that type of thing.'"
The onus is on the provincial government to provide the funding to allow nursing homes to offer their own training programs on site, he
"In the old days they used to bring people in, hire them and train them right on the site.That's the way to go because the cost is minimized."Murray said it would also give new staff the first-hand experience to decide if they will like working in a nursing home.