Seniors told to speak up for long-term care beds

The Central Alberta Council on Aging will not stand by and watch the province close two aging Red Deer long-term care facilities while people wait for beds.

The Central Alberta Council on Aging will not stand by and watch the province close two aging Red Deer long-term care facilities while people wait for beds.

Alberta Health Services plans to close Valley Park Manor and Red Deer Nursing Home and move residents to Extendicare Canada’s new Michener Hill Village, which is expected to open in September.

With 220 long-term care beds at Michener Hill, the city will only gain four long-term care beds. Meanwhile, the number of people waiting for beds, as of March 31, was at 227 in the Central Zone of Alberta Health Services. Of the total, Red Deer has a wait list of 49.

Michener Hill will also provide Red Deer with 60 more supportive living beds.

Viggo Nielsen, vice-chairman of Central Alberta Council on Aging and chair of the council’s health committee, said there’s not a lot of hope for people waiting for a bed.

“That places a lot of hardship on people. We would like to have your permission to lobby hard to keep those two nursing homes open,” said Nielsen, earning applause from the crowd of about 130 people at the council’s meeting on Tuesday at Golden Circle Seniors Centre.

No date has been set yet for closing Valley Park Manor and Red Deer Nursing Home.

Red Deer senior Vic Mulhall, 92, said with so few new beds on the horizon, it shows the province is blind to the needs of seniors.

“I don’t see that as looking after the seniors. I think there’s trouble ahead,” Mulhall said.

Sissel Bray, executive director of seniors health Central Zone with Alberta Health Services, said the province is in the midst of a planning process and development of supportive living options across Alberta.

The wait list changes every day because people are moved through the system every day, she said.

“In the month of March, we were able to move 92 people across the zone. Wait times, they vary. It depends on the availability of the living option that’s preferred,” Bray said.

The province has been working on expanding home care service to seniors in their homes as part of its Aging in Place strategy.