Albert Einstein is often credited with the famous quote – “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
So, here we go again. It would appear that our provincial government may be clinging to some alternate form of reality if the best they can do to improve the facilities-based care for seniors is to do the same thing over and over again. Promoting more and more private, for-profit operators of seniors’ congregate care facilities has not protected the health and safety of Alberta’s seniors – nor has it done so anywhere else in Canada.
Let’s not forget that it was Premier Kenney early in the pandemic, as seniors were dying in the hundreds in Alberta’s care facilities, that stated on the floor of the Legislature – “The average age of death from COVID in Alberta is 83, and I’ll remind the house that the average life expectancy in the province is 82.”
Can it be any more obvious that Kenney does not care about the health and well-being of seniors in this province or the care providers who work with them every single day? What he obviously does care about is more and more private, for-profit facilities, funded by public dollars but allowed to levy un-regulated fees to residents, without strict regulatory oversight and accountability for the public including the patients/residents of those facilities. The result, at best, is the same levels of care that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of seniors, multiple deaths of care workers and increased profits for shareholders. Profits which leave this province in the pockets of people who care little about the people dying under their watch. According to Stats Canada data, the average of profits of privately operated care facilities is almost 10% - an impressive return on investment for shareholders at the expense of Alberta’s taxpayers.
Public Interest Alberta and multiple other organizations and professional bodies across this province and across Canada believe that change is long overdue. In PIA’s submission to the government’s Facility-Based Continuing Care Review one year ago and based on current, peer-reviewed research, we recommended the following:
1.) Get profits out of seniors’ care,
2.) Create an easy-to-navigate system,
3.) Ensure appropriate staff-to-patient ratios and staff mixes,
4.) Provide quality care based on need, not on ability to pay, and
5.) Legislate an autonomous Office of the Seniors’ Advocate.
(More clarification of the priorities of the Seniors’ Task Force of Public Interest Alberta can be found at: https://www.pialberta.org/tell_this_government_review_alberta_seniors_deserve_better)
This recent announcement, like so many others of this government, is a recycling of previously announced initiatives and funding that was misguided and misdirected even then. After years of cuts, cuts, cuts to facilities-based care, this latest hype misses the point again – it’s not about the real estate, Premier Kenney, it’s about the people. It needs to be about the patients and it needs to be about the caregivers attempting to meet the increasingly diverse health, social and personal needs of each patient in an environment with untenable workloads and inadequate support.
Alberta’s Seniors Deserve Better!