New daycare at Sydney long-term care home aims to boost retention, recruitment

The Cape Breton YMCA will operate the daycare at the Cove Guest Home in Sydney, NS It is expected to open early next year.  (Shutterstock - image credit)

The Cape Breton YMCA will operate the daycare at the Cove Guest Home in Sydney, NS It is expected to open early next year. (Shutterstock – image credit)

A new daycare center is being built on the grounds of a long-term care home in Sydney, NS, in hopes it will boost recruitment and retention in the industry — and create opportunities for intergenerational learning.

The 50-space daycare will be constructed behind the Cove Guest Home, and will be operated by the Cape Breton YMCA.

Cheryl Deveaux, CEO of the Cove, said the long-term care industry is short-staffed, in part due to the lack of safe and accessible child-care services for workers.

“It’s a real barrier between them being able to work and we need them desperately in our health-care system,” Deveaux told CBC Radio’s Information Morning Cape Breton on Monday.

“We’ve lost people due to a lack of child-care services for sure, so this has been a real pressing issue for a very long time in the sector.”

The new daycare will offer spaces with a priority for children of staff at the Cove and other surrounding long-term care homes, including MacGillivary Guest Home, Harbourstone Enhanced Care and Celtic Court, she said.

“This is a true pilot for recruitment and retention and long-term care and … hopefully we can see these pop up maybe around the province,” she said.

Deveaux said the idea to add daycare spaces in the area has been in the works since the early days of the Houston government.

In September 2021, the province announced it would offer on-site daycare for 10-12 long-term care employees at the Cove.

This new center will expand that number, and create more opportunities for children and residents of the care home to get together.

“The opportunity for this child-care site is really intergenerational learning,” Sabrina Vatcher, CEO of the Cape Breton YMCA, told Information Morning.

“I think that’s one of the most unique parts of this partnership that we have here — the opportunity for the kids to have exposure to seniors and seniors to have exposure to kids right on site.”

Vatcher said residents will be able to share meals, celebrate holidays and play outside with the children in a structured way.

There could also be opportunities for storytelling and gardening together, Deveaux said.

“The opportunities are endless,” she said.

“Many of our seniors don’t have grandchildren of their own, so it’s almost imagining that grandparent relationship with the children and how that would be free flowing between the two of them. It would be a beautiful thing.”

Vatcher said the daycare is still working with the province to get extended hours and weekend care to accommodate the schedules of long-term care employees.

The daycare is expected to open at the Cove by early next year.

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