Blog | November 03, 2013

By Caroline Zentner, Lethbridge HeraldAnyone with concerns about seniors care in Alberta can air them Monday evening at a special session called “Seniors Care Who Cares?” The session is part of an 11-city speaking tour by Public Interest Alberta, Friends of Medicare and Parkland Institute to raise awareness about issues in seniors care.The top three topics are Alberta’s continuing care and long-term care systems, changes to home care and the seniors drug plan being proposed by the government, said Bill Moore-Kilgannon, executive director of Public Interest Alberta.Although details about the plan haven’t been made available, it would be similar to the British Columbia system and based on income thresholds so seniors would have to pay for the full cost of their drugs up to a certain percentage of their income. Once that threshold was reached government and the insurance industry would kick in. A C.D. Howe Institute study that analyzed the B.C. drug policy found it cost government more. People on fixed incomes will not buy drugs if they can’t afford them, increasing the chances they’ll end up in hospital in an acute-care bed.“So really when the government says it’s going to save $180 million what that means is they’re offloading $180 million in governments costs onto the sickest seniors in the process,” he said. “We are calling for a pharmacare program that is integrated into our health-care system, not seen as an extra thing that you have to buy private insurance for.”Home care is another crucial issue, especially since the consolidation of the home-care contracts earlier this year. The consolidation has had negative consequences for seniors, especially in Calgary and Edmonton. While the province touts the advantages of having seniors stay in their homes as long as possible, it is trying to operate that system as cheaply as possible.“I don’t think our seniors deserve that, nor do the people who work in that industry,” he said. Another hot-button issue is long-term care. Acute-care beds are being occupied by people who would be better served in long-term care beds. But Moore-Kilgannon said the province plans to reduce the number of long-term care spaces in favour of spaces in private, for-profit, assisted living facilities. Moore-Kilgannon said Monday’s meeting will start with a brief presentation by the sponsors, followed by time for people to tell their stories about seniors care. In addition to collecting people’s stories on seniors care, people are being encouraged to join a Constituency Action Team and talk to their MLAs about their concerns.The “Seniors Care Who Cares?” session will be held Monday from 7-9 p.m. at Southminster United Church, 1011 4 Ave. S.Read the article online at the Lethbridge Herald.