Albertans are living longer. And as they age, they are staying healthy and independent longer. Given this, we need to develop a long term plan to ensure that our growing population of seniors is able to access care in ways suited to the way we age today and into the future.
A shortage of continuing care options is putting a terrible strain on seniors and their families. A bed in an acute care facility is not the right place for an Alberta senior requiring continuing care, but many are ending up there because they cannot find an assisted living or long term care facility to accommodate their needs.
The shortage of quality continuing care options is due in part to underfunding and in part to a centralized and rigid regulatory framework that has inhibited the development of continuing care facilities. We need to address both of these problems.
As mentioned below, improved home care is part of the solution. Appropriate home care can greatly increase the quality of life of seniors who need care but want to stay in their homes and in their communities.
Continuing care providers across the province have also told me that the current regulatory framework inhibits development of new facilities. Not only do facilities struggle under a heavy burden of regulations and directives from the provincial government, but the existing financial model and assumptions are holding us back. In short, we have created a system in which providers cannot afford to add new continuing care beds. We need to:
- Revamp the regulatory framework to enable non-profit and private providers to increase the number of continuing care beds. We can do this by removing the cap on housing costs for seniors at continuing care centres. Quotas must be created to ensure access for low and middle income seniors.
- Assisted living and long term care facilities need to be given the flexibility to create facilities that meet the aspirations of seniors and their families. We need more flexibility for seniors to choose one location for their entire continuing care requirements.
- Ensure all health care services at continuing care facilities are provided by Alberta Health Services. We need to separate private delivery of housing and related services from publicly funded and publicly delivered health care services.
- Expand the range of health care that is provided in continuing care facilities and seniors private homes so that seniors don’t have to travel to hospitals unnecessarily. Not only will this be more convenient and comfortable for seniors, it will also reduce pressure on our acute care system.
- Work with post-secondary system to ensure that adequate numbers of health care professionals receive training in senior care so that they can respond more effectively to the particular needs of Alberta seniors.
You can contact Alison’s team at 403.264.2001 or 1.855.5.ALISON (525.4766)
You can also contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will respond to your email as soon as possible.