Province is failing seniors, says reader

Seniors’ issues and long term care have been part of Red Deer for many years.

The 2005 Auditor General’s Report highlighted poor conditions needing improvement, and many other government health care changes and reorganizations have come and gone.

In 2010 two nursing homes were closed and only replaced by the same number of beds in a private for profit facility. The two nursing homes remain empty to this day. A limited number of beds were contracted out to local private providers; one agreement has since been terminated. Covenant Health was funded to build a facility in Red Deer, there has been little or no reporting on that project. Patients are sent far from home for long term care beds.

There has been one constant; that is in the way Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services fails to report to the Alberta public on how well they are doing in providing for people needing long term care beds.

They have not been able or willing to report to Alberta communities on long term care waitlists.

Since 2010, I have been communicating on this with Alberta Health Services (AHS) from Central Zone staff, to the chief executive. I have also asked our MLA Cal Dallas and Health Minister Fred Horne for assistance, to no avail.

The question is a simple one – how many people are waiting in hospital for a long term care bed; how many people are waiting at home for a long term care bed, how many people are waiting in nursing homes many miles away to return to a long term care bed in their own home communities.

Prior to 2008 similar information was regularly provided by the old David Thompson Health Region when it was still in operation.

When AHS was originally contacted, staff was only able to provide quarterly zone information in the printed form of the Performance Dashboard Central Zone Format, (which is also on the AHS web site). However it is not reasonable to expect ordinary citizens to search for and find this information, which by design, and due to lack of detail, is not useful to average people.

The question is does AHS report to the general public, or are their operations secret? Are there waitlists for long term care? Where and how many patients are waiting for beds? How long do patients have to wait?

To be effective, reporting should be on a regular point in time, monthly or bi-monthly schedule. It should provide the location and number of funded beds, giving additions and deletions in each category of care.

AHS has confirmed that they do monthly data gathering, this information is used internally. I urgently ask that it be made available to inform the public. I believe that by establishing a regular reporting system, AHS will fulfill their obligations for accountability and transparency and will raise their image and profile.

The long term care wait time reporting asked for is needed not only for Red Deer but for all communities and areas across the Province.

Sam Denhaan

Red Deer