Friday, June 2, 2017

We are collecting signatures on a petition calling for the provincial government to make good on their promises to open 2,000 public long-term care beds, and end the practice of approving new private spaces. This situation in Cold Lake is yet another example of how private care is failing Alberta patients and staff. Alberta's legislature requires old fashioned written petitions, so please download it, print it, and send it to us with as many signatures as you can gather!

Ruth Adria is well aware of the retribution tactics of the continuing care industry as she has been subject to retribution acts such as bannings and lawsuits. Now the industry that is publicly funded by us is telling us that they will also use retribution on workers who speak of untenable working conditions. I'm guessing that the industry might have got away with retribution against Ruth Adria and the families who were banned / sued but they're not going to get away with mass firings of AUPE Workers. The way to end this sort of junk is to get the public involved. The Court of Public Opinion is the way to go. It worked in Sundre where Jason Nixon did a good job with AUPE and the Friends of Medicare to show the role of government in that junk.

Guest Blog - What's Happening in Sundre?

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 plan to 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 247/1990 “Every 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 in their meetings with the minister.

It is important to support the Cold Lake Workers at the Points West Living facility because they are being brave. They are telling us about the working conditions that they want changed and I tend to agree with their concerns. There are problems in the continuing care system and usually --it appears--if you yap about these problems in public you get retribution. In the case of Ruth Adria of the Elder Advocates of Alberta Society she was getting banned and sued repeatedly for bringing up issues of care in the continuing care system. This sort of junk needs to end. We have a right to publicly discourse about the non-compliances and care issues in the system and the retribution business needs to end. If the GOA won't end it then let the court of public opinion end it. Why should we have our public dollars go to public and private sector continuing care facilities that do not respect residents, families and the workers? Why should we be told to shut up for telling the world how our family members suffered due to the system wide failures in place? Why should we keep silent? This is a democracy. We have a right to speak.
No one should face retribution in the form of evictions, bannings, lawsuits and job termination for speaking publicly about concerns in the system especially when you have audits backing up these concerns.
In other words -unless Alberta has always been Russia --we can speak about these issues and we will even if there is retribution of a mass job termination sort.
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Julie Ali
1 min
Younger boy is cramming for his second attempt at the driver's learner's test. I am waiting for him to be done. I mopped floors while he ate breakfast. Then I stripped the beds while he showered. I want to get going but if I rush him he gets anxious so I am waiting.
Right now crummy clouds in the sky. The rain was useful in dust amelioration that has all of us with allergies sniffing. There is a wavy feeling to the trees outside the windows of the writing room that makes me feel a bit off kilter. They wave so slowly that you feel you are in an alternate universe.
Meanwhile the geraniums think they are dying and so are blooming like mad to make seeds for the future. I must remember to water them.
I have done everything on the To Do List except the learner's test for younger boy and the methotexate injection pick up for mum from Millwoods which is always at the back of my mind but waiting for either the parents or the younger boy-never gets done before the Dispensaries place closes.
The library books that are due also have to be put back.
Meanwhile the prep for the lawsuit is still to be engaged in like a bowl of dough I have to keep punching down.
I haven't yet put in the application for the national award for Ruth Adria. I can't imagine how she has been doing this elder advocacy for decades in Alberta and getting sued like I am being sued while the GOA sits on its rump doing nothing. Meanwhile you have Cold Lake workers fired for their public dissent of working conditions at the Points West Living facility and you gotta wonder--What the heck? Can no one just do their jobs and ensure that staff are trained, that there are sufficient staff to handle the numbers of residents and that there is an integrated care team around to help the residents through their complex health problems?
As the Friends of Medicare folks point out the Cold Lake dispute is significant because workers are now raising the issues; before it was just Ruth Adria and families who got the retribution alone. Now we have the workers getting it.
3 Reasons the Cold Lake Points West Living Lock-Out is Important for Patient Care
Home Blog 3 Reasons the Cold Lake Points West Living Lock-Out is Important for Patient Care
3 Reasons the Cold Lake Points West Living Lock-Out is Important for Patient Care
FOM supporting the staff in Cold Lake
Friends of Medicare supporting the staff on December 28, 2016
With the holidays behind us, many of us were able to reconnect and refresh with family and friends.
For the staff and patients at the for-profit supportive living facility run by Points West Living in Cold Lake, those holiday traditions were disrupted.
Despite extreme cold weather warnings in Cold Lake, the AUPE-represented staff were given lockout notice and sent out of the building on Friday, December 16 at 8:30 a.m. Facing freezing elements and separation from their residents, the staff remained united in their attempt to secure their first contract despite the adversity. Family members and residents approached the picket lines with mitts & snacks along with much-needed encouragement. As of this writing the weather has gotten warmer, but the lock-out continues. Here’s why patient advocates should be paying attention:
Privatization in continuing care has created inequality among caregivers and support staff. Operators looking to cut corners and maximize profits or executive bonuses have driven down working conditions, wages, and benefits at many private homes - both for-profit and not-for-profit. This has many staff feeling undervalued, and leads to high turnover and burnout. When staff successfully seek fairer treatment in line with their training, education and experience, they improve staff morale and reduce turnover, leading to an improved care experience.
Locked out staff brave the elements
Photo credit: AUPE. Locked out staff brave the elements
The staff have proposed language in their contract that will implement processes to deal with a serious problem – scheduling and staff replacement. Providers in Cold Lake and across the province often neglect to replace staff who are away due to illness, vacation and other reasons, leaving residents shortchanged and staff running off their feet. Staff in Cold Lake have told us this is a daily occurrence, and it’s not uncommon to have multiple absent staff not being replaced. Continuing care regulations do not address this problem either, nor has the government announced plans to tackle this issue. If the staff in Cold Lake are successful, they will help build momentum for other workers through Alberta to call for similar improvements.
To varying degrees, these problems exist at private care homes across the province. The previous government created an under-regulated system that encourages these issues. Albertans are denied the right to know the details of the million-dollar capital and operating funds awarded to providers like Points West Living, and there are no measures in place to ensure that one hundred percent of the funding intended for caregivers actually goes towards hiring and paying staff. We see a clear case to stop the practice of opening new private facilities, and we should be working instead towards phasing out the private sector in continuing care.
Visit the AUPE website Points West Living Probe and sign up for updates
AUPE has put together a website on Points West Living that is a great resource with newsletters updating people about the business practices of Points West Living. We expect more news as the dispute continues so be sure to sign up for their updates.
Contact the Premier and Cabinet Ministers
The staff are encouraging supporters to contact the Premier, Cabinet Ministers & Opposition members to let them know this situation is unacceptable. Positive changes to our continuing care system are needed, and our government should think twice about awarding grants for new facilities to providers like Points West Living who create these problems. There is a draft letter online here to get you started, but remember it's always helpful to add your own take on why the staff should be supported in their fight for better care.
Download and sign the Friends of Medicare petition for public long-term care
We are collecting signatures on a petition calling for the provincial government to make good on their promises to open 2,000 public long-term care beds, and end the practice of approving new private spaces. This situation in Cold Lake is yet another example of how private care is failing Alberta patients and staff. Alberta's legislature requires old fashioned written petitions, so please download it, print it, and send it to us with as many signatures as you can gather!
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For the staff and patients at the for-profit supportive living facility run by Points West Living in Cold Lake, those holiday traditions were disrupted.

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