Seniors care in ‘crisis,’ says Public Interest Alberta

Seniors advocates are pushing the province to deal with what they call a long-term care crisis.

Seniors groups and health-care unions say Alberta spends about 19 per cent less than the national average on long-term care.

‘We have a crisis in our seniors care system,” said Bill Moore-Kilgannon, the executive director of Public Interest Alberta – an organization that focuses on education and advocacy.

“We don’t have enough long-term care, and the care that’s being provided is being cut back significantly, and thirdly, they’re pairing with private, for-profit corporations, where a lot of the taxpayers dollars are being siphoned off. We need more facilities and we need proper care in those facilities, and that comes about with having trained staff.”

Public Interest Alberta has asked the province to release a recently completed internal report about the state of long-term care in the province.

‘Just going in circles’

Bernie Travis’s husband, Clarence, is a dementia patient who has spent the past four months in a ward at the University of Alberta Hospital while he waits for a spot at a long-term facility.

Bernie Travis

Bernie Travis says watching her husband spin circles in his wheelchair at the University of Alberta Hospital while he waits for a permanent spot in a long-term care home has left her feeling helpless. (CBC)

She said her husband’s condition has left him isolated and depressed, as hospital staff are too busy to interact with him with any regularity.

“There isn’t anything for him. The conversation he can have with staff is very limited for the day, and he spends his time in a wheelchair, just going in circles.”

Travis said the situation has left her feeling helpless and alone, unable to get clear answers about when her husband may be moved to a more permanent home.

“If he was in a long-term facility, it would 10 times better than what it is right now.”

In 2008, Alberta capped the number of long-term care spaces in the province at 14,500.

Moore-Kilgannon said Alberta needs 6,000 new long-term beds to keep up with demand.

Alberta Health spokesman Steve Buick said Health Minister Stephen Mandel is aware more beds are needed.

However, Buick was not able to say how many new beds the province will commit to.

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