Over the next twelve months hundreds of seniors will be moved out of hospitals and in to long term care beds.
Premier Jim Prentice made the announcement alongside Health Minister Stephen Mandel at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton Tuesday morning.
An estimated 740 Alberta seniors or complex needs patients are currently on wait-lists for long term and continuing care beds.
Patients in the Calgary zone make up about a third of that number (283). There are 240 patients waiting for continuing care beds in the Edmonton zone.
“By quickly transitioning these seniors out of hospital and making necessary investments in home care and continuing care, we can provide a better quality of life for our seniors and ease pressure on provincial hospitals,” says
The province will also assist seniors remaining in acute care with $60 million in targeted Affordable Supportive Living Initiative (ASLI) funds.
Alberta Health Services will dedicate approximately 20 per cent of newly freed up acute care spaces for emergency patients.
More than 1,400 additional continuing care spaces are expected to open between now and 2018 through previous ALSI funded projects.
Alberta currently has a total of 23,172 continuing care beds.
Opposition party weighs in
The Wildrose party is calling Tuesday’s announcement a broken promise.
Wildrose Human Services and Seniors Critic Kerry Towle says, “despite promising well over a thousand continuing care beds each year, today the PC government announced to only build 464 beds this year.”
She says the government remains behind on its promise to open 5,000 continuing care spaces by 2015.
Alberta Liberals says PC plan doesn’t go far enough
Alberta Liberal Leader Raj Sherman says the announcement is a replica of an unsuccessful public relations tactic employed by the PCs during the last health care crisis.
“The government did the exact same thing as it did in 2011. It opened a few temporary beds until things quieted down, but didn’t address the underlying systemic issues,” says Sherman. “The PCs are still refusing to change their failed, privatized continuing care policies, so it’s not good enough,” says Sherman.
Alberta’s Union of Provincial Employees critical of announcement
The AUPE says the province’s announcement leaves serious questions over the future of seniors care in the province.
“We welcome the plan to reopen 464 care spaces, but Albertans deserve to know why Alberta Health Services closed them in the first place,” says President Guy Smith.
“In the last year the province abolished 183 long-term care beds. We still don’t know if the government plans to continue to shut down more long-term care beds in auxiliary hospitals as has been the practice under the [ASLI] program.”
Breakdown of bed openings by region:
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