The Alberta Council on Aging will be watching how the Alberta and federal governments respond to the new voluntary standards for long-term care.
The non-profit Health Standards Organization released updated guidance for long-term care in Canada on Tuesday, in light of the deadly and tragic toll the COVID-19 pandemic took on residents and their quality of life.
“I’ll be interested to see what the next steps are. We need all the provinces and territories to adopt these standards. Let’s get working on this,” said Ron Rose, of Red Deer, who is the board president of the Alberta Council on Aging.
The standards recommend that residents should get at least four hours of direct care every day, and that those who work with them must be paid more.
Experts with Health Standards Organization say enforcement is needed to make sure standards are followed.
Rose said governments knew the grey wave from the baby boom was coming and that more staff would be needed to provide seniors care, in addition to the demands from the rest of the health care system.
“It’s not as if this should come as a surprise. We went through this for schools back in the 50s and 60s, and then housing in 60s and 70s and 80s.”
He said Alberta seniors were not hit as hard during the pandemic as those in Quebec which was a few weeks ahead of other provinces when it came to COVID-19 infections. That allowed Alberta to prepare.
Rose said he’s heard that Alberta Health and Alberta Seniors, Community and Social Services have been working to improve the quality of care.
“I will be interested to see if the standards (Health Standards Organization) is recommending can be incorporated in what the province is doing.”
Long-term care is under provincial jurisdiction, but the Liberals promised in the 2021 election to legislate safety in long-term care across the country and doubled down on that promise in the pact with the NDP. So far the government has not said what that law would entail.
Rose said he is also waiting to see how much federal funding the provinces will get to fix their health care systems. The governments are meeting in February.
New guidelines for the design of long-term care homes and practices to prevent infection were developed in tandem with the updated care standards. They were released last month by the CSA Group, formerly known as the Canadian Standards Association.
The CSA Group standards cover everything from the number of residents who should share a room to the materials used to construct the building.
The CSA Group standards are strictly voluntary at this point, but the experts who developed those building standards hope they will be adopted into regulations or legislation quickly.
— with files from The Canadian Press