Alberta seniors call on province to fix long-term care crisis

Public Interest Alberta’s Seniors’ Task Force released a long-term care position paper this week that calls on the Prentice government to fix the growing crisis in seniors care.

Public Interest Alberta’s Seniors’ Task Force released a long-term care position paper this week that calls on the Prentice government to fix the growing crisis in seniors care.

Sixteen organizations are deeply concerned that the Government will not change the government policy that caps the number of long-term care beds and continues to fund seniors care 19 per cent below the national average.

“The crisis in seniors care can be largely addressed if the government is willing to invest in building enough long-term care places to meet the current and future needs and to employ more medically trained staff to increase the number of care hours from 3.6 to 4.5 hours/day,” said Noel Somerville, the chair of Public Interest Alberta’s Seniors’ Task Force. “The Prentice government needs to revise its six-year-old Continuing Care Strategy that caps the number of LTC beds at 14,500, and stop putting public funds into building more corporately run supportive living and assisted living facilities that charge families huge amounts of money for extra care and supports.”

Studies done by the OECD indicate that the 34 member countries have on average enough long-term care capacity for four per cent of their population over the age of 65. By that count, Alberta should have about 20,000, a shortfall of nearly 6000 beds.

“How is it possible that a senior official with AHS can get away with telling the government’s Public Accounts Committee last week that there are too many long-term care beds in Alberta when my husband Clarence has been at the University of Alberta hospital since Aug. 8 awaiting placement?” asks Bernie Travis, representative of the group Early Onset Dementia Alberta. “This government needs to build a quality seniors care system so that families are not suffering without the support they need for their loved ones and the care givers.”

“For too long our long-term care system has faced constant underfunding and privatization,” said Heather Smith, President of United Nurses of Alberta. “Increasing the number of public long-term care beds with appropriate staffing levels will ensure residents receive the safest and most cost-effective care possible.”

The release of this position paper comes as Alberta Health Services concludes the continuing care system review that they have been quietly conducting for the past six months. The task force is calling for the report and recommendations of the Continuing Care Resolution Team to be publicly released as soon as possible.

An investigation by the Office of Protection for People in Care was released at the media conference describing how one Edmonton senior died due to neglect in a private, for-profit care facility.

Sam Denhaan

Red Deer, Member of the

Public Interest Alberta Seniors’ Task Force

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