Monday, October 10, 2016

who speaks for them? -----“Many seniors and their families are the ones who are suffering from the failures of this private market approach to seniors care,” says Noel Somerville, Chairperson of Public Interest Alberta Seniors Task Force. “The government needs to invest in building enough capacity in a public seniors care system rather than giving millions of dollars to corporations to build lower care assisted-living facilities.”----During the 2015 election, the NDP promised to create 2,000 new long-term care beds by the end of its first term, and Hoffman said it will require expansions to existing facilities like this one to achieve that. “It’s a variety of different ways that we’re going to get there. We’re going to do it in partnership. Having opportunities with a facility provider that’s already serving over 200 people, to add another 100 beds —another 100 homes, essentially,” said Hoffman.----“Responsibility for monitoring continuing care contracts is held in various AHS departments, resulting in an ‘everybody is responsible” situation,” the report said. “The risk in this kind of approach is that ‘nobody is responsible’.”------------“Auditing should be done by a group that is removed from front line or Alberta Health Services operations.” New Democrat health critic David Eggen said the report shows that AHS has been an expensive failure, six years after its creation through a merger of regional health authorities. “(It) paints a clear picture of the chaos and confusion,” Eggen said. “There was never a clear delineation of responsibility.” Horne said the government accepted the HQCA’s finding that there was both a lack of arm’s length oversight and an abundance of duplication in the care audit system. “It’s not clear where the buck stops,” he said. “Effective immediately, the Ministry of Health will assume the responsibility for quality monitoring and reporting.” While inspections that examine whether a facility meets accommodation guidelines are posted online, the HQCA said those audits that measure compliance with health and safety standards should also be made public so families can make better-educated choices on where to house their loved ones. The report said the province also needs to create a single repository for serious incident reports, abuse investigation findings and family complaint files because critical information is often not shared among various areas of AHS and Alberta Health. The review team were told of several instances where AHS managers only learned of abuse investigations completed by department officials after they were reported on by the media. “This significantly limits the ability of the continuing care system to identify analyze and trend safety issues,” said the HQCA report, “and thus significantly hampers effective quality and safety management.”------

one day you will be old
and you will see
what this means
in Alberta

this is the way it is
the stories are said in private
or between families
we can't say them in public or retribution happens

when we refuse silence
we are told that we are adversarial
we are told that we must go to the single point of contact
as if we were contagious   as if our words are unbearable

is this how all levels of government operate?
do they refuse our words because of contagion?
is the truth so hard for them to accept? why then are they
in public office? why then are we paying for their salaries?

here are the new PCs in government doing the same
do nothing do nothing
because these are the most vulnerable citizens
who aren't able to speak for themselves


we are the families of these vulnerable citizens
we speak for them
and we say the words that need to be said
this government is failing our families

we aren't shy to state this matter
and we keep going
despite the lack of action
we tell government at all levels

we pay for everything
where is the value for our tax dollars?
why do we have to stand in line for services and supports?
why are most vulnerable the last in line?

who speaks for them?  not the NDP
and not the Liberals
the irony is that the Wildrose folks
are speaking for our families

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sG6aWhZnbfw

Sia - The Greatest (Audio) ft. Kendrick Lamar



Accountability and transparency needed for long-term care operators

2016-09-05 · by Admin2015 ·
Friends of Medicare
News release
Friends of Medicare are calling for accountability and transparency for private for-profit operators like Park Place Seniors Living in light of today’s announcement from Alberta Health that they will be opening 99 beds in Edmonton’s Villa Marguerite.
“While we do know that Park Place has received $6.3 million in funding to open the facility, Park Place will also be receiving operational funds to provide care at Villa Marguerite and their other Alberta care facilities. The details of those funding dollars need to be publicly disclosed so Albertans can see where the money is going,” said Executive Director Sandra Azocar.
“We also know Park Place is facing potential labour disputes in negotiations with their other for-profit locations. This is partly the result of a neglectful funding policy that allows operators to put caregiver funding into profits or other areas instead of rightly allocating money to paying the staff patients need.”
In 2012 Park Place saw two labour disputes as Licensed Practical Nurses and Health Care Aides at the Hardisty Care Centre, and later Registered Nurses at the Devonshire Care Centre ended up on strike because of unequal pay with other health care workers, and a funding model that did not require money handed over for caregivers to be directed 100% towards the caregiving staff.
“We have seen eight labour disputes with private care operators since Alberta Health Services was formed in 2008. We believe the private sector should be phased out of continuing care, but while it exists Albertans deserve transparency and accountability with public funds given to private operators,” Azocar continued.
“Patients and families suffer when public money is used to produce even greater profit-margins instead of put towards hiring and retaining quality staff.”
“We hope that the recent review of continuing care regulations leads to changes that stop the cycle of inequality and labour strife that for-profit operators like Park Place have benefitted from to the detriment of patients and staff,” concluded Azocar.
More can be found at www.friendsofmedicare.org.


Health minister announces expansion of west-end seniors facility

Published on: August 24, 2016 | Last Updated: August 24, 2016 6:33 PM MDT
Health Minister Sarah Hoffman, centre, announced 99 new beds will be added in an expansion of Villa Marguerite, a supportive living facility in west Edmonton, on Aug. 24, 2016.
Health Minister Sarah Hoffman, centre, announced 99 new beds will be added in an expansion of Villa Marguerite, a supportive living facility in west Edmonton, on Aug. 24, 2016. STUART THOMSON / POSTMEDIA
The Alberta government will take a small step closer to its goal of adding 2,000 new long-term care beds by expanding a west-end seniors facility.
Ninety-nine new beds will be housed in an expansion of Villa Marguerite, a supportive living facility in west Edmonton, which is already home to 230 people who require supportive living. The $6.3-million expanded facility will open in 2018.
Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said the shifting demographics of the province mean new beds like these are more important than ever.
“More and more seniors were waiting, unfortunately, be placed in hospital beds, or at home without the right supports they need,” said Hoffman at an announcement on Wednesday. “We know that the beds will be full here as soon as we’ve completed construction, so it can’t come soon enough.”
The expanded facility will accommodate 94 residents with dementia, 146 residents with physical disabilities or mental health challenges and 99 residents in need of long-term care.
“We know that the population of seniors in the province is going to double by 20 years from now. As you get older your health needs continue to grow and we want to make sure that no matter where you live, you can continue to contribute to your community, stay close to home, your family and your friends,” said Hoffman.
During the 2015 election, the NDP promised to create 2,000 new long-term care beds by the end of its first term, and Hoffman said it will require expansions to existing facilities like this one to achieve that.
“It’s a variety of different ways that we’re going to get there. We’re going to do it in partnership. Having opportunities with a facility provider that’s already serving over 200 people, to add another 100 beds —another 100 homes, essentially,” said Hoffman.
Villa Marguerite opened in 2011 with 77 suites for residents with dementia. The property was purchased in 2015 by Park Place Seniors Living, who were selected by Alberta Health Services to develop the expanded residence the same year. Park Place owns and operates 23 seniors residences in B.C. and Alberta, with two more under construction.
sxthomson@postmedia.com


Aug 24, 2016 Media inquiries

More long-term care beds for Edmonton

Alberta Health has partnered with Park Place Seniors Living to develop new long-term care spaces in Edmonton.
The new care home will be on the park-like grounds of Villa Marguerite at 9810-165th Street in Edmonton. It will serve Alberta seniors and others who need daily living support plus access to round-the-clock nursing care.
“Opening new spaces for Albertans to receive care is more important than ever, based on our growing seniors population. When the addition is complete, another 99 Albertans will have a place to call home that meets their health needs while treating them with the respect and dignity they deserve.”
Sarah Hoffman, Minister of Health
The Government of Alberta is committed to identifying where long-term care spaces are needed and how they will be built and operated to ensure that the right kinds of care are available.
“We are very appreciative of the Alberta Government’s support and commitment to meet the needs of seniors,” said Al Jina, President of Park Place Seniors Living. The addition of 99 long-term care beds will help create an exciting campus of care, incorporating a “neighbourhood design” which is best practice in residential care.”
Al Jina, President and owner, Park Place Seniors Living
In 2015, Park Place Seniors Living was awarded a $6.3-million grant towards the project after a successful submission to the Affordable Supportive Living Initiative.
The contractor for the project is Edmonton’s Chandos Construction.

Related information


Media inquiries

  • Timothy Wilson
  • 587-983-7127
  • Press Secretary, Health


Accountability and Transparency Needed for Long-Term Care Operators

Friends of Medicare are calling for accountability and transparency for private for-profit operators like Park Place Seniors Living in light of today’s announcement from Alberta Health that they will be opening 99 beds in Edmonton’s Villa Marguerite.
“While we do know that Park Place has received $6.3 million in funding to open the facility, Park Place will also be receiving operational funds to provide care at Villa Marguerite and their other Alberta care facilities. The details of those funding dollars need to be publicly disclosed so Albertans can see where the money is going,” said Executive Director Sandra Azocar. “We also know Park Place is facing potential labour disputes in negotiations with their other for-profit locations. This is partly the result of a neglectful funding policy that allows operators to put caregiver funding into profits or other areas instead of rightly allocating money to paying the staff patients need.”
In 2012 Park Place saw two labour disputes as Licensed Practical Nurses and Health Care Aides at the Hardisty Care Centre, and later Registered Nurses at the Devonshire Care Centre ended up on strike because of unequal pay with other health care workers, and a funding model that did not require money handed over for caregivers to be directed 100% towards the caregiving staff.
“We have seen eight labour disputes with private care operators since Alberta Health Services was formed in 2008. We believe the private sector should be phased out of continuing care, but while it exists Albertans deserve transparency and accountability with public funds given to private operators,” Azocar continued. “When public money is used to produce even greater profit-margins instead of put towards hiring and retaining quality staff, patients and families suffer.”
“We hope that the recent review of continuing care regulations leads to changes that stop the cycle of inequality and labour strife that for-profit operators like Park Place have benefitted from to the detriment of patients and staff,” concluded Azocar.


Friends of Medicare
  1. Guest Blog - The Facts on Sundre

Guest Blog - What's Happening in Sundre?

Posted by Margot Howe 73.60sc on March 27, 2016

What's happening in Sundre?

wodak.jpg Carol Wodak, March 27, 2016
Note: We're pleased to feature a guest blog post from respected elder care advocate Carol Wodak. Carol is a valuable resource on issues and information relating to continuing care, and has put together some facts and her perspective on what's happening with the closure of 15 publicly delivered long-term care spaces in Sundre, while seeing the opening of a supportive living facility operated privately by Mountain View Seniors' Housing.
Mountain View Seniors’ Housing is a non-profit organization, and a registered charity, operating seniors’ lodges, seniors’ self-contained apartments and subsidized family housing in Carstairs, Sundre, Olds and Didsbury  By 2012, MVSH submitted a planto the Alberta government’s ASLI program, as a consequence of identifying the need for more seniors’ care in the Sundre area, including assisted living and long-term care.  At that time, Sundre Hospital and Care Centre had 15 long-term care beds, and the Foothills Lodge had 43 residents.
By 2014, MVSH was awarded a $3.8 million Affordable Supportive Living Initiative (ASLI) capital grant for a 103 bed facility which would consist of 40 level 4 and 4D supportive living units, 45 level 1 and 2 lodge units to replace Foothills Lodge, and 18 independent living “life lease” units, similar to a project in Olds. MVSH had approved $26.6 million from Life Lease sales and with financing to provide the estimated construction costs. By 2015, the federal government had added Investment in Affordable Housing funding to bring the total public investment to $8,232,000 for the 103-bed facility.  The facility was expected to open in 2016.
Meanwhile, the Alberta Progressive Conservative government had been systematically shifting long term care from nursing home facilities to a new model called, at that time, “Designated Assisted Living” and now “Designated Supportive Living”, and the New Democrat opposition had been roundly condemning wholesale displacement of persons assessed as needing the higher level of care.
In an article in the 04 May 2010 Tofield Mercury, NDP MLA Rachel Notley said “charges that the government plans to 'move people out of hospital beds into private for profit beds where they receive less care and pay more for it: that's wrong."… the waiting lists for those fragile Albertans needing long term care is not being addressed.   "Albertans are waiting up to two years for long term care and this government has shut down beds," she said.   "A lack of long term care beds means seniors will be faced with one of three options: (1) not getting the care they need; (2) staying in acute care hospital beds, or (3) paying exorbitant fees at supportive living facilities."
They have consistently ignored the results of the 2006 million-dollar Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research study [on behalf of Alberta Health and Wellness] about the health outcomes of seniors cared for in nursing homes and in supportive or assisted living facilities.
Fast forward to March 8, 2016, when radio station rock104 reported Council Learns Of AHS Plans To Decommission 15 Sundre Hospital Long Term Care Beds.
“…There was a big announcement made by Alberta Health Services at the Monday, March 7th town council meeting.
AHS is going to decommission the 15 long term care beds at Sundre Hospital with the construction of the new Mountain View Seniors Housing facility in Sundre, according to Mayor Terry Leslie.
He adds there are 15 long term care beds in the Sundre Hospital and those residents will see a change in care.
Mayor Leslie says they are looking forward for ongoing community meetings to try and make the transition as easy as possible for patients affected and make sure resident care into the future is going to be the paramount focus.
He adds there is a contract to provide service not in long term care but in supportive living care at the new facility. So he calls it a change in the way care will be provided to seniors…”
Closure of the LTC beds was not an AHS decision.  The LTC beds in the Sundre Hospital were registered as an Auxiliary   Hospital.  According to the OPERATION OF APPROVED HOSPITALS REGULATION Alberta Regulation 247/1990Every hospital shall require prior approval of the Minister for a) any proposed major change or termination of an existing service provided by the hospital ...”
The current NDP government is on record over a long period of time, in 2012, NDP MLA David Eggen compared the closure of the long term care facility in Carmangay to “domestic abuse” at a rally to protest Premier Redford’s decision. Also in 2012,Premier Rachel Notley commented that the Tory plan to limit LTC beds and shift to supportive living “aims to force sick seniors to shoulder a larger share of their health-related costs and live in facilities that may offer them an inadequate level of care.
"It's unfair, but it's also absolutely penny wise and pound foolish," Notley said.
"These patients will end up in much more expensive ER and acute care beds because they are the last resort."
The 2015 NDP Election Platform promised to create 2,000 public long term care beds [not to close public beds and shifting to private supportive living], and to “end the PCs’ costly experiments in privatization, and redirect the funds to publicly delivered services.
They are short-changing Alberta seniors by not creating enough long-term care beds and relying on expensive, for-profit delivery of inadequate assisted living and homecare.
Hansard records for Monday, March 14, 2016 and Tuesday March 15, 2016 show an interesting role reversal; the Wildrose protesting shutting down long-term care beds and laying off nurses in Sundre, and NDP Health Minister Hoffman explaining that they’re not really losing LTC beds, although there might be a slightly different level of care the number of beds is increasing from 15 to 40.
The Minister’s lines could have been written by any of the Tory Health Minsters in the last dozen years.
Friends of Medicare and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees have joined the opposition to the closure of the LTC beds and the shift to a lower level of care which is provided with increased private costs for goods and services, and increased responsibility for residents and/or family and friends.
Public Interest Alberta is on record as opposing closure of public long term care beds, with the Seniors Task Force participation in a documentary about the Carmangay closure, in their media releases, in their Position Paper on Long-Term Care, and intheir meetings with the minister.

Alberta health care needs fewer bureaucrats, not more cash infusions


lorne gunter
BY LORNE GUNTER , EDMONTON SUN
FIRST POSTED: WEDNESDAY, MARCH 18, 2015 06:27 PM MDT | UPDATED: THURSDAY, MARCH 19, 2015 08:45 AM MDT
emergencyEdmonton's Misericordia Hospital. (EDMONTON SUN/File)
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GUNTER -  
More money for health care in Alberta will not solve problems such as the nearly 1,600 cancelled or postponed surgeries expected this year. If more money were the answer, the doubling of the health budget in the past two decades would already have ended wait times and other gaps in the system.
Re-establishing rural health boards, as the Tories promised this week, might have some impact. And the NDP’s demand for more long-term care beds might, too. If places can be found in seniors’ homes for seniors who are now occupying beds in hospitals, that should free up more beds for patients needing surgery, whose operations are currently on hold because there is no bed to send them to when they leave the ER.
But none of these solutions is the real answer because none of them deal with the real problem – the bureaucracy that is choking the system. Alberta has far too many health bureaucrats who suck up far too many dollars without contributing much (if anything) to improved health outcomes.
More public spending on health care is often floated as the answer to what ails health care – more money and more public-sector union workers in the system.
But consider this one simple fact: 20 years ago health care budgets in most provinces (Alberta included) were half of what they are now and waits for surgeries average just over nine weeks. Now, after accounting for inflation, health budgets are nearly twice what they were in 1995 and yet so are wait times for operations – 18.2 weeks according to the latest data from 2014.
If you were arriving in Alberta from an alien planet and someone told you that as spending has doubled so too have waiting times, you’d be forgiven for guessing that more public spending on health care was actually causing increased wait times. And you might be right.
Public spending on health distorts the incentives to make efficient decisions about where money should go. So even more money could very well have an even greater distorting effect. If the bureaucrats who run the health system know they can always count on more taxpayer funds, what reason do they have to spend money wisely?
Re-establishing regional health boards (which the Stelmach government did away with in 2008) might deal with some of these inefficiencies, but only if regional directors are given real power to make decisions.
Theoretically, the centralization should have created efficiencies. But what happened in real life was that few managers in the regions lost their jobs. Instead, they lost their authority to make decisions. So, for instance, instead of centralized purchasing saving money, it added extra levels of bureaucracy to pass decisions up and down the line over and over.
Committees and new executives study issues to death without adding any real value to patient care.
If the re-introduction of rural boards is not accompanied by large-scale layoffs of central health care bureaucrats, it will be a meaningless political gesture. It will be nothing more than an effort to make the Tory government look as if it is listening to rural voters, when in fact it is only adding to the bureaucratic bloat.
Similarly with the NDP demand for more seniors’ homes to relieve hospital overcrowding: If opening more continuing care beds simply leads to more bureaucrats to manage those beds, the move will solve nothing.
What is needed to prevent more postponed surgeries and ever-lengthening waiting lists is more private innovation. Let the provincial government continue to pay for everyone’s health care, but let private health care providers deliver the services.
Get rid of the bureaucratic elephant in the system.
lorne.gunter@sunmedia.ca

Health watchdog calls for better oversight of care facilities

MATT MCCLURE, CALGARY HERALD  06.06.2014
Health Minister Fred Horne. (Edmonton Journal/Files)
Health Minister Fred Horne. (Edmonton Journal/Files)ED KAISER / EDMONTON JOURNAL
Health Minister Fred Horne. (Edmonton Journal/Files)
Health Minister Fred Horne. (Edmonton Journal/Files)ED KAISER / EDMONTON JOURNAL
Oversight of patient safety in Alberta’s $1.4 billion continuing care system is difficult because providers are not forced to sign a standardized agreement or required to seek outside accreditation, says the province’s health watchdog.
A new report by the Health Quality Council of Alberta says Alberta Health Services needs to promptly decide who at the provincial health authority is responsible for ensuring nursing homes, supportive living facilities and home care contractors deliver quality treatment to over 120,000 clients.
“Responsibility for monitoring continuing care contracts is held in various AHS departments, resulting in an ‘everybody is responsible” situation,” the report said.
“The risk in this kind of approach is that ‘nobody is responsible’.”
The HQCA review was ordered by Health Minister Fred Horne last year in the wake of media reports about missed visits to home care clients in Edmonton and allegations of neglect of residents at a long term care facility in Calgary.
For example, the Herald uncovered two cases last December where residents of McKenzie Towne Care Centre died after developing blood poisoning from massive bedsores.
Investigators with the quality council discovered 20-year-old contracts — inherited by AHS when it was created in 2008 — meant that three-quarters of supportive living facilities, two thirds of home care sites and one quarter of nursing homes were not required and had not bothered to seek accreditation by an outside agency.
“AHS is in the process of moving all new and existing service providers towards a master services agreement and service schedules that will be consistent across the province,” the report said.
“However, moving legacy contracts to the new MSA has been difficult and is taking longer than originally expected.”
Health Minister Fred Horne told reporters Alberta will soon require all facilities and home care providers to be get a third-party seal of approval.
“Providers in future that do not meet national standards will not be welcome to deliver care to seniors in our province,” Horne said.
The watchdog team also found redundancy in the audits of providers, a problem first pointed out in 2005 by Alberta’s auditor general.
A facility might undergo five on-site inspections for compliance with bathing and water temperature standards by different staff at AHS or the department within the same year.
“There are duplications of auditing processes, audits and standards often overlap or address the same issues, and there are many, many types audits,” HQCA executive director Charlene McBrien-Morrison said.
“Auditing should be done by a group that is removed from front line or Alberta Health Services operations.”
New Democrat health critic David Eggen said the report shows that AHS has been an expensive failure, six years after its creation through a merger of regional health authorities.
“(It) paints a clear picture of the chaos and confusion,” Eggen said.
“There was never a clear delineation of responsibility.”
Horne said the government accepted the HQCA’s finding that there was both a lack of arm’s length oversight and an abundance of duplication in the care audit system.
“It’s not clear where the buck stops,” he said.
“Effective immediately, the Ministry of Health will assume the responsibility for quality monitoring and reporting.”
While inspections that examine whether a facility meets accommodation guidelines are posted online, the HQCA said those audits that measure compliance with health and safety standards should also be made public so families can make better-educated choices on where to house their loved ones.
The report said the province also needs to create a single repository for serious incident reports, abuse investigation findings and family complaint files because critical information is often not shared among various areas of AHS and Alberta Health.
The review team were told of several instances where AHS managers only learned of abuse investigations completed by department officials after they were reported on by the media.
“This significantly limits the ability of the continuing care system to identify analyze and trend safety issues,” said the HQCA report, “and thus significantly hampers effective quality and safety management.”
mmcclure@calgaryherald.com
With files from Darcy Henton


June 5, 2014 12:36 pm
Updated: June 5, 2014 7:06 pm

Confusion in Alberta continuing care: report

By Dean Bennett The Canadian Press
- A A +
EDMONTON – There is confusion, duplication, and questions over who’s accountable for what in Alberta’s continuing care system, the province’s health watchdog reported Thursday.
Charlene McBrien-Morrison, executive director of the Health Quality Council of Alberta, told a news conference in Calgary that there is confusion not only among the providers, but within them as well.

RELATED

“Quality and safety management in continuing care lacks clarity in roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities among the Ministry of Health, Alberta Health Services, and contracted providers,” said McBrien-Morrison.
“Within Alberta Health Services alone there is a similar lack of clarity regarding roles and responsibilities in continuing care.”
She spelled out problems in a number of areas, starting with no standardized system for handing out contracts to service providers.
She said the province needs to put all contracts under one master template and that “Alberta Health Services make explicit where the responsibility and accountability for continuing care contract compliance monitoring and oversight resides.”
She said the current audit system needs work.
“There are duplication of auditing processes, audits and standards often overlap or address the same issues, and there are many, many types of audits,” she said.
She said the system is also hampered by a crazy quilt of multiple surveys and questionnaires to gauge feedback from those who use the system.
“It makes it difficult to consistently assess the client and family experience,” she said.
There is also no centralized system to record and track safety issues, she said.
“This significantly impacts the ability of the continuing care system to identify and analyze safety issues.”
Health Minister Fred Horne, at a news conference in Edmonton, said he accepts all the recommendations and has begun acting on them.
“We will require in Alberta all continuing care facilities and home care providers to meet nationally accredited health care standards,” said Horne.
Horne said a number of facilities already meet those standards, but said in the past it wasn’t mandatory. He said his department will immediately take over monitoring to ensure quality care.
In a separate report, the council also said that those who need the care should have some degree of choice in determining the option that’s best for them.
The government has been criticized for forcibly separating married seniors by placing them in distant care centres under a first available bed policy.
Critics labelled the policy cruel, calling it “divorce by nursing home.”
The province is promising changes to work with the patients and their families to get patients into the closest available bed in their home community and keep couples together whenever possible.
Horne’s department is responsible for health policy while AHS handles day-to-day health care delivery.
AHS was created in 2008 to replace all regional health boards on the philosophy that centralized management would reduce waste and duplication, save money, and improve service.
However, AHS has struggled with wait times, faced accusations of doctors being abused by administrators, and frequent staff turnover at the executive level.
The NDP and Wildrose parties said everyday Albertans are reaping the confusion sown by Horne and the creation of AHS.
“They created a system where they put layers and layers and layers upon layers of bureaucracy, and nobody is talking to each other,” said Wildrose critic Kerry Towle.
“What we really have in this system is a bunch of people covering their butts all the time, and it doesn’t put the clients’ needs first.”
NDP critic David Eggen said centralizing health regions without carving out lines of authority has actually worsened health care.
“Alberta Health Services has been a failed experiment and very expensive,” said Eggen.
“It seems like everyone’s responsible, and no one’s responsible.”


Alberta Government Must Address Systemic Problems in Seniors Care

Authored On: June 05, 2014
5
First Available Bed Policy is Symptom of Failed Private Market Model
EDMONTON – The Health Quality Council of Alberta report “Continuing Care Wait List: First Available Appropriate Living Option” that was released today demonstrates that there continues to be a serious shortage of spaces for seniors requiring long-term care. The result is that many seniors are waiting too long in acute care hospitals and in their homes. However, the report fails to explore underlying systemic issues with the private seniors care model.
“Many seniors and their families are the ones who are suffering from the failures of this private market approach to seniors care,” says Noel Somerville, Chairperson of Public Interest Alberta Seniors Task Force.  “The government needs to invest in building enough capacity in a public seniors care system rather than giving millions of dollars to corporations to build lower care assisted-living facilities.”
The report recommends that families should be given more choice rather than having to take the first available bed within a 100 km radius. Despite their promise to build 5000 long-term care beds over five years, the current AHS capital plan shows that the government intends to reduce the number of long-term care beds by 1700 while putting millions of public dollars into private assisted living facilities, most of which are owned by for-profit, private corporations.
“When will the Minister of Health admit that their private market model for seniors care is broken and needs to be over hauled?” asks Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “We hear story after story of seniors and their families who are disempowered and forced to advocate and fight for quality care.  Instead the government should be investing in a public system that can provide for the health and well-being of our seniors.”
While the report says the AHS policy is that families can be charged $100/ day if they refuse a first available bed, many people have been told that they would have to pay the full hospital costs if they do not accept the placement.
“When we did not want my father to go into a private long-term care facility, we were told directly that we would have to pay $1200 - $1500 per day for him to stay at the hospital and that he would not stay at the top of the waiting list for another bed,” said Larry Booi, Chairperson of Public Interest Alberta.  “It had nothing to do with choice – it was coercive bullying. As it turned out, the private long-term care facility could not deal with some of his basic health care needs, resulting in him being transferred back to the hospital a number of times before they would no longer take him back.”

From Bad to Worse

Residential Elder Care in Alberta

NOV 06, 2013
From Bad to Worse
Albertans, like other Canadians, are worried about whether they will receive the care they need as they age. News in Alberta is littered with revelations about problems with accessing appropriate elder care and questions about the quality of available care. Staff employed in the elder care field endure difficult conditions that make it challenging to ensure all elders receive the care they deserve.
In this context, it is important to ask if the Alberta government is ensuring elders in this province receive the supports they require to live with dignity and in comfort. In response to this question, the Parkland Institute undertook a study of Alberta’s system of residential elder care. The study draws on quantitative data from Statistics Canada’s Residential Care Facilities Survey and qualitative data from the reports of Alberta’s Health Facilities Review Committee, as well as conversations with government and industry representatives, labour unions, seniors’ advocates, and front-line workers.
Focusing on assisted living [AL] and long term care [LTC], this report explores the consequences of two major, interrelated shifts in Alberta residential elder care in recent years:
The replacement of LTC with AL
Elders who would once have been placed in LTC have increasingly been diverted into AL.
The expansion of for-profit delivery of residential elder care
Elder care services in Alberta are delivered either by a public body, a not-for-profit agency, or a for-profit business. Recent years have seen a fall in publicly-delivered elder care and a spike in for-profit facilities.
Between 1999 and 2009, relative to the growth in number of Albertans over age 75, the number of residential elder care (either AL or LTC) spaces fell by 4%, while the number of LTC spaces fell by 20%. By 2008, Alberta had the second lowest availability of LTC spaces in the country.
Problems in Alberta’s residential elder care are many and varied, and cannot be exhaustively addressed in the context of this relatively brief report. However, this report does identify three especially troubling areas.
1. Across residential elder care in Alberta, a significant gap exists between the care provided and the care required to ensure residents’ dignity and comfort.
Examples of the consequences of the care gap include waits of up to 2 hours for response to call bells, meals rushed to a point that choking risk is increased, and inadequate staffing that puts both elders and caregivers at risk.
2. Based on evidence from beyond and within Alberta, for-profit elder care is inferior to care provided publicly or by a not-for-profit agency.
Measured against benchmarks established by elder care experts, LTC in Alberta has often failed to achieve staffing levels that point to minimally acceptable care. Between 1999 and 2009, for-profit facilities fell short of the staffing levels that indicate reasonable quality elder care by over 90 minutes of care per resident, per day. While public facilities also fell short, they did significantly better than for-profit facilities.
3. Significant offloading has left many elderly Albertans and their support networks struggling to cope with burdens, both financial and otherwise, that at one point would have been alleviated by the provincial government.
Offloading also has consequences for the wider community and the provincial economy.
This report includes an analysis of Alberta’s for-profit residential elder care sector. While providing inferior care, these operations generate substantial profits. Between 1999 and 2009, private long-term care facilities in the province had an average return on investment [ROI] of 2.1%. Private AL facilities had much higher returns over that time, with an average ROI of 9.14%. This means that in recent years the returns received by the private residential elder care industry in Alberta have been higher than those of the US stock market, which over the same time-frame had an average return of 1.23%.
The report also points toward difficulties in accessing information about residential elder care. In light of the termination of the Statistics Canada Residential Care Facilities Survey, the elimination of the Health Facilities Review Committee, repeated changes in programmes and terminology within Alberta, and the inconsistencies that characterize elder care across Canada, there is a need to ensure elders do not become lost in a knowledge gap.
In sum, this report documents significant problems with residential elder care in Alberta. It makes clear how the provincial government’s policies of privatizing and offloading have negatively affected the well-being of Albertans. The evidence is clear: as more services have been provided by for-profit enterprises and as the available supports have decreased, elder care in Alberta has gone from bad to worse.

Recommendations

1. Expand the Canadian public health care system to encompass continuing care services, including all residential and home-based forms of elder care. The Government of Alberta should join with other provinces in lobbying the Federal Government to expand public health care to include continuing care services, including all residential and home-based forms of elder care.
2. Improve staffing. In recognition of the care gap across Alberta elder care, the Government of Alberta should immediately make available funds to facilitate improved staffing, with the provision that all operators (public, not-for-profit, and for-profit alike) be obliged to expend these funds on direct care staffing. The Government should ensure that all elder care facilities are legally bound to minimum staffing levels established in relation to experts’ assessments of the levels required to ensure equality care.
3. Phase-out private, for-profit elder care. Immediately suspend subsidies and programmes that benefit for-profit elder care corporations and work to phase-out for-profit elder care due to the abundant evidence that for-profit corporations provide inferior quality care.
4. Increase public access to information about elder care. Improve monitoring and reporting practices to ensure that meaningful data about elder care is available to all Albertans.
5. Create a watchdog. Establish an elders’ advocate to report to the legislature. An elders’ advocate would be positioned to monitor elder care, to track change over time, and to ensure the effective integration of the elder care system with other policies and practices that bear on the well-being of Alberta elders. The advocate should work closely with a committee of elder Albertans.
ISBN: 978-1-894949-43-9

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