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Take care putting seniors into homes

Over the past several years, there have been a lot of strikes involving the health-care sector.

It is surprising in this day and age that we have to go union to get employers to treat their staff fair and to give them a fair wage. It seems that paying a wage below standards, no benefits, unsafe and at times a hostile environment is not a problem for some employers and they wish not to address these issues.

Alberta Health Service (AHS) and our Alberta government are trying to improve but when it comes to assisted and long-term care they are not getting a passing grade.

One issue is letting people from out of province come in and opening up these facilities. These are for-profit companies that charge our seniors large sums and take all profits back to their province. Employers will go out of their way to try and make your work place unhappy once you have gone union.

When you have to put a family member in a home, make sure you check it over and ask questions and more questions. Are they a subsidized facility, are they private, what is the staff ratio to residents, what is the health care aides’ duties, are they certified, how often are they short of staff, what extras do they charge for? You will be surprised by the extras you are charged, a band-aid, any dressing for a tear, gloves the staff wear and the list will go on.

If the ratio is more than one staff to six residents, then think twice.

If they are short and cannot get a replacement staff, then aides will do the job of two staff.

Ask about activities and who does them. If it is care staff, then you know that activities will not be done on a regular base or at all as they do not have the time. Ask to see the calendar of the care department.

It does not matter if you pay $7,000 a month or more for rent, and you will in some of the places, you will not get any better treatment than a subsidized person.

We need better regulations. If the facility is not funded by AHS, then they do whatever they want to do. Your family member deserves better, you deserve certified, well-trained staff.

Contact AHS and our health minister to let them know that training on the job is not acceptable in this field. Medications by certified staff only and only if they want to do medications and taught by a certified RN or LPN who can teach this course. RNs and LPNs are not trained on the job so why do we have uncertified staff looking after all stages of a seniors life? We have schools for health-care aides, some better than others.

We need to let AHS and our government know to stop the for-profit companies coming in and financially raping our seniors, and treating our health care workers like they are not important. This also applies to AHS-funded facilities.

Care staff are looking after your family member because you are unable to do so. It is a hard job and the only thank you they will get will come from a family member and sometimes the residents.

If the facilities are union, then the union will stand up for them.

If you do decide to put your family member in a facility, then please monitor their care. You will be their only advocate. All facilities are not the same. Some will be a good fit for your family member. You just have to do your homework. Don’t get caught up with the sales pitch and all the hype on how well the place looks. They have one mission: to get you in. Empty beds do not bring in money.

So I thank unions for standing up for our employees and our seniors. I thank the health-care workers who stick with their jobs as they feel the seniors come first.

We need change and we need it fast.

Betty Bell

Red Deer



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