Medical benefits needed for seniors

Nursing Home Act hasn’t been formally reviewed in Alberta for 33 years

Red Deer Regional Hospital is bursting at the seams and according to Karen Cazemier this problem could be solved if seniors could receive their medical benefits regardless of where they choose to live.

“They’re not sick, they’re old—age is not a disease,” said Cazemier, owner of Community Care Cottages located in Lacombe, Red Deer and Edmonton. She lobbies for seniors saying they do not belong in the hospital or “institutions”.

Red Deer Regional Hospital currently has many seniors occupying acute care beds because they are unable to get a spot in a publicly-funded facility such as Royal Oak in Lacombe, Pines Lodge or the Piper Creek Lodge in Red Deer.

When asked, Alberta Health Services did not respond as to the specific number of seniors occupying hospital beds.

”While acute care in the hospital is more expensive than long-term care, there are no set costs for seniors in the hospital waiting for long-term care because each patient requires different levels of care,” said Brent Wittmeier, press secretary for the minister of health.

According to the Office of the Minister for Seniors and Housing, the government has allocated $45 million of the budget to support seniors’ housing.

They confirmed the government does not fund private seniors facilities, but did not respond to how facilities can obtain that status. That is something Cazemier said is extremely difficult.

“The industry is unnecessarily complex,” said Irene Martin-Lindsay, executive director of the Alberta Seniors Communities and Housing Association or ASCHA. “It’s kind of a strange landscape here in Alberta.”

ASCHA is a non-partisan group representing 70% of the seniors’ housing sector.

It partners with provincial and municipal governments to educate leaders and advocate for seniors’ housing.

Martin-Lindsay explained it should be an independent access system giving choice back to residents.

“Right now we have a compliance model, not a quality model,” she said.

“We have to accept that seniors may want to live with a certain level of risk and that like everyone else they are entitled to take that risk.”

According to Cazemier, there are plenty of empty beds available in the private sector, but most seniors cannot afford to pay for their own medical care in addition to accommodation fees.

Publicly-funded facilities have fixed accommodation rates of $1,992 per month covering meals, snacks, a lifeline and housekeeping and Alberta Health pays for all residents’ medical care, based on residents’ “assessed needs”.

If a senior is living independently at home they can be assessed and receive government-funded medical care.

In private facilities they set their own accommodation rates and they vary widely.

What is consistent is that they pay their own medical bills. If a senior lives in a private home Alberta Health Services will only assess “unmet needs.”

“The system is currently in the middle of a transformative shift,” Martin-Lindsay said.

The Nursing Home Act hasn’t been formally reviewed in Alberta for 33 years, since it was changed in 1984.

Just Posted

Tom Pyper’s life on the South Saskatchewan Pipeline

Red Deer man looks back on his time working on the Cantuar pump station

Central Alberta Theatre is gearing up to present Neil LaBute’s Some Girl(s)

Opening night is April 20th with shows running through to May 5th.

Burman U prof publishes international development book

The Development Trap: How Thinking Big Fails the Poor looks to challenge perceptions

WATCH: Check out this week’s What’s Up Wednesday

A weekly recap of the week in news

WATCH: Red Deerian receives award for aiding RCMP officer in arrest

Lonnie Amundson, rugby player, tackled a fleeing suspect to help ailing officer

WATCH: Red Deer’s latest ‘Ghost’ statue unveiled at Servus Arena

‘The Face-off’ is the 11th ‘Ghost’ in the notable bronze series

Driving Change: A B.C. man’s charitable trip across Canada

A Kelowna man, his bus, and his mission for positive change across our country

Case of teacher secretly filming teens reaches top court

Acquittal of teacher, Ryan Jarvis, who secretly videoed teens ‘dangerous,’ top court told

Why a 14-year-old will lead the charge at annual marijuana protest on the Hill

Marijuana enthusiasts have long been circling April 20 on their calendars as annual day of cannabis

RCMP say too early to know what happened in Broncos crash

RCMP Assistant Commissioner Curtis Zablocki said collission very complex

Conservative MP wants feds to close loophole for illegal border crossers

Immigration advocates call on government to suspend Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement

Alberta university criticized for honouring David Suzuki

University of Alberta plans to bestow environmentalist with honourary degree

Lance Armstrong settles $100M lawsuit with U.S. government

Disgraced cyclist reached $5-million settlement with sponsor U.S. Postal Service

Black Press Media acquires two new Alaska newspapers

New Media Investment Group to acquire the Akron (OH) Beacon Journal while Black Press Media takes on daily newspapers in Juneau and Kenai Alaska

Most Read