Blog | November 10, 2013

By Elizabeth McSheffrey, Grande Prairie Daily Herald-Tribune, November 10, 2013Grande Prairie residents young and old are invited to attend a public discussion on seniors’ health care this week at the Royal Canadian Legion.The “Seniors’ Care: Who Cares?” tour hits the city on Tuesday and will raise important issues with the state of resources for the elderly throughout the province.Public Interest Alberta (PIA), Friends of Medicare and the Parkland Institute will host the event, which has already stopped in six different communities so far.“At some point we’re all going to be there whether we like it or not,” said PIA executive director Bill Moore-Kilgannon, “so just learning about the trend of our seniors’ care system is very important.”According to these organizations, the trends in Alberta are disappointing and require major attention from the provincial government.A recent report by the Parkland Institute revealed investment in assisted living is on the rise, but long-term care has taken a serious hit. “In the last election, the Conservative Party promised 1,000 long-term care spaces would be created each year for the next five years,” Moore-Kilgannon explained.“Unfortunately, after the election when the budget came out, the Alberta Health Services capital plan showed they’re actually going to cut 1,700 long-term care beds over the next five years.”Money is going instead to assisted living, he said, which only works well for the “wealthy and healthy.”The report, called “Bad to Worse: Residential elder care in Alberta,” also identified problems with private and for-profit seniors’ care.The assessment revealed qualifications and number of staff are “shockingly” lower in such institutions.“We’ve heard all kinds of horror stories across this province as we’ve done this tour,” said Moore-Kilgannon. “Many seniors are not getting the medical care that they need in these facilities.”Presenters will also examine dangerous changes to the current seniors’ drug plan, which is scheduled for a makeover in 2014.“People need to know and understand what’s going on,” said the executive director, “but we’re not just there to talk and educate people, we want to hear what’s happening in Grande Prairie.”The organizations are seeking feedback from those who have accessed local seniors’ health care to help build their case for provincial advocacy.The goal of the tour is not only to inform, but to inspire the public to take some action.“We also hope that people will come and want to get involved and support advocating for a better quality seniors’ care system,” he explained.“People who have had a parent, husband or wife in the system… know that in this incredibly wealthy province, we could be doing so much better.”The meeting will take place on Nov. 12 at the Royal Canadian Legion (9912-101 Ave.), from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and there is no cost for admission.For more information, call 780-420-0471 or visit the article online at the Grande Prairie Daily Herald Tribune.