More staffing, training and long-term care beds needed, say seniors

More staff, more long-term care beds and more employee training are needed to improve seniors care at continuing care facilities.

More staff, more long-term care beds and more employee training are needed to improve seniors care at continuing care facilities.

That’s what Central Alberta seniors told a two-member AHS Continuing Care Resolution Team who want to hear Albertans’ ideas to improve seniors care.

Administrators Isabel Henderson, from Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital in Edmonton, and Nancy Guebert, from Rockyview General Hospital in Calgary, have been working together since July to come up with recommendations for Alberta Health Services CEO Vickie Kaminski by Jan. 7.

The pair spoke at the Central Alberta Council on Aging meeting at the Golden Circle on Tuesday.

So far the team has done about 180 interviews with patients, family members, and groups and has collected about 400 documents.

Many seniors at Tuesday’s meeting suggested they start by improving staff levels and training.

“I think part of it is making sure we have the right amount of staff to support the needs of the client,” Guebert said after the meeting.

“There’s an opportunity to look at how our staffing models have been put in place, how we’re funding those, and that’s actually work that is happening right now.”

Seniors also pointed out the need for more long term care beds.

Henderson said they are looking at how to increase facility capacity and home care.

AHS has already identified how acute care patients are waiting for hospital beds because seniors can’t leave hospital due to the lack of community care.

Henderson said people who go into hospital have the potential to lose five per cent of their muscle mass per day if they are not moving around.

“If someone is in hospital for a week or two weeks, it’s just tragic what can happen so we need to stop that,” Henderson said.

She said improving the system won’t be a quick fix and AHS has to “attack this on many fronts.”

The team is looking at access to continuing care, the transition of seniors to care, communication, facilities and quality of care.

Fred Olsen, president of Alberta Council on Aging, said the first thing that needs to be done is to develop more long-term care.

“Long-term care is the cornerstone. Once your long-term care problem is sorted out, then all the other systemic problems will start to disappear,” Olsen said.

The team also has to address inequalities in care within the system, he said.

Doug Janssen, Central Alberta Council on Aging member, said continuing care needs more funding to be used for staffing rather than increasing revenues for operators.

“The Alberta government has been promoting for-profit operations as opposed to not-for-profits. Even some of the larger not-for-profits, when you come right down to it, have a for-profit mentality,” Janssen said.

Olsen said the continuing care team is on the right track.

“It’s necessary and we should support them. You have to help make the system better. Don’t just sit there and say I have a problem,” Olsen said.

“I think everybody present wishes the team well,” Janssen said. “We have all the hope that things are going to change. We have fears there’s going to be a nice glossy report put on the shelf and collect a certain amount of dust. Hopefully we’re wrong.”

When the team was appointed, AHS created a Continuing Care Concerns phone line 1-844-468-2930 and email account to serve as a central point of intake for Albertans with unresolved continuing care concerns.

People with ideas for the team can use the same telephone number and email.

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