The Alberta government has released its much-anticipated review of Alberta Health Services, recommending significant cuts and other major changes to seniors’ care. One recommendation is for 1,300 patients in Long Term Care (LTC) beds to Designated Supportive Living (DSL). Another is to increase the rate Albertans pay for LTC. The major difference between these two levels of care is that in long term care pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and medical equipment are covered by the public system; in designated supportive living, those costs are shifted to patients and their families.
“If the government adopts the report’s recommendation that 1,300 long term care patients be placed in designated supportive living, it will mean a significant increase in out-of-pocket costs for Alberta families,” said Joel French, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “Along with the recommendation that long term care fees to families be increased, this ‘savings’ for government would be a significant increase in costs for the seniors who built our province.”
The report also recommends “reducing staffing levels” in long-term care settings.
“The government spin that quality of care will not be affected or will even increase is simply not true,” said French. “There is no other result possible from reducing staffing levels than to have lower quality care. Our seniors rely on highly-skilled professionals to meet their needs, and it is clear that this change would reduce the quality of care they receive.”
Other recommendations propose further increasing the presence of private operators in long term care, including privatizing publicly-owned organizations Capital Care and Carewest.
“Offloading the operation of our public services to private corporations means reduced accountability, transparency, and quality of care,” said French. “At the same time, our dollars will be spent less efficiently as private corporations carve out significant amounts of funding that should be going to care to pay their shareholders. Private corporations are in seniors’ care first and foremost to make money, and the less care they provide the more money they make.”