A Red Deer woman is fearful that one day soon she will be unable to visit and care for her beloved 95-year-old aunt who is like a mother to her.
Faye Hallett is the sole caregiver for Rena Thorn who has lived in Red Deer for close to 70 years. Thorn recently broke her shoulder and is recovering in Red Deer Regional Hospital.
Hallett said her aunt will have to go into continuing care when she is discharged from the hospital.
“I am really worried that she will not be in Red Deer,” said Hallett. “The likelihood is very slim that she will be placed in Red Deer because there are so many people out there waiting to come in.”
The Alberta government is currently reviewing its unofficial first available bed policy of placing seniors in continuing care facilities within 100 kms of their homes.
“I’m her only lifeline and relative in Red Deer,” said Hallett. “If she is out of Red Deer, she will have no one.”
Hallett said she understands there is a shortage of beds in Red Deer and many people in outlying Central Alberta communities want to move back into Red Deer.
Hallett is also a full-time caregiver for her husband so she will be unable to make daily trips to wherever her aunt is placed. Hallett currently pays for home care for her husband while she visits her aunt.
Hallett said her aunt was quoted $5,000 a month for private care or $750 a day to stay in the hospital.
“What happens here? She gets sent to Bashaw or Stettler,” said Hallett. “It doesn’t matter where she goes, she will have no one there to care for her . . . I spend five days visiting her. I won’t be able to do that. She will have no advocate. I am really concerned.”
On June 18, Health Minister Fred Horne said Alberta Health Services needs to ensure it is always doing what’s best for the people it serves.
“Premier Redford and I have heard concerns raised about the Alberta Health Services (AHS) proposed changes to home care delivery services and the unofficial 100-km continuing care policy,” he said. “Part of our government’s Building Alberta Plan is better health care, closer to home — and that is the very clear direction we’ve set.”
On Thursday, John Muir, a spokesperson for Alberta Health, said AHS asked for the (Health Quality Council of Alberta’s opinion) to get a better sense of what the expectations are.
“The minister’s concern is that each person and their family be dealt with on a case by case basis (as opposed to an arbitrary rule) with a view to keeping people as close to their homes as possible, and keeping couples together wherever possible,” said Muir via email.
“We recognize there are challenges due to growth of our population and increasing number of seniors requiring care but we will do our best for each person and his/her family.”
Hallett said she has written to her local MLAs about the policy.