Deborah Langlois, administrator for Queens Manor and the North Queens Nursing Home, has seen that demand climb ever higher in her time at the facilities.
Queens Manor has been trying to get an expansion on the books for the past 15 years, but so far has not had success.
Queens Manor has 61 beds, while North Queens has 43 beds and one respite. A respite bed is a spot at the manor that someone can stay at temporarily. It gives caregivers a break when they need someone to look after their loved one overnight.
Last year the funding for the respite bed in Queens Manor ended, and had to be removed. Langlois says this bothered many people in the community that appreciated the service, but there wasn't anything they could do about it.
In addition to more beds, there are space issues at the manor as well.
"The rooms are significantly smaller than new builds. Our double rooms are the size of the private rooms," says Langlois.
Langlois says building or expanding the nursing home could be a good economic driver for the community, similar to the hospital and school builds going on now. More beds would also mean more employees once the facility is completed.
Funding for a new manor would come through the provincial Department of Health and Wellness, if approved.
The North Queens nursing home is a newer facility and not in need of repair or replacement. However Langlois says if the money was there they could fill new beds with ease.
Langlois sees the best solution as a mix of increasing home care support and adding more nursing home beds to communities. Also a change in policy could help with wait list.
"It really should go to a needs based system," she says.
Other provinces work on a needs based system, with a list of criteria that determines where a person is on the waiting list. In Nova Scotia, it is first come first serve.
If you are already in the community, you go on the list for the closest nursing home. However those in hospital beds waiting for a spot have to take the first available bed within 100 kilometres.
"For people that don't drive or elderly family members, it can be tough."
The waitlists are not getting any shorter either. Over the past year the list grew from 1,600 people to 2,400 according to the Department of Health. This is despite adding 1,000 new beds between 2008 and 2011.
"While the increasing number of seniors is certainly a factor, it is not the only thing influencing the waitlist. Problems accessing home care have contributed as well as challenges in acute and primary care," says Pam Davison, communications officer with the Department of Health and Wellness.
Langlois says seeing those numbers can cause some panic in family members. They might put someone on the list before they are ready, just to ensure a spot
"That's why I think people are on the list earlier than need be," she says.
The system can also lead to another problem. If a bed comes up and someone is on the top of the list, they can still refuse the bed. The person's name still stays at the top of the list, which means they will be called again when another bed comes up. Other jurisdictions put that person's name at the bottom of the list when they refuse. Because of this system, it takes on average 19 days to fill a bed.