Blog | October 19, 2012

By Thomas Miller, Lloydminster SourceThe Lloydminster Concerned Citizens for Seniors Care joined with Public Interest Alberta to hold a public forum at the Legacy Centre on Monday evening to discuss seniors care in Lloydminster and area.The gymnasium at the Legacy Centre was full for the duration of the meeting as all sorts of stakeholders spoke about the state of seniors care in the area.Formed in 2005, the Concerned Citizens for Seniors Care are advocating for the south and central portions of the Dr. Cooke Extended Care facility to be used as best as possible, rather than torn down, as well as other improvements to seniors care in Lloydminster and area.The Government of Alberta announced in March that the demolition of the old facility would be put on hold, but wouldn�t guarantee that the facility would remain standing. Tearing down that part of the facility would take 55 beds from the community. The new facility being built on the western outskirts of Lloydminster would have 60 beds.According to the Concerned Citizens for Seniors Care, there are many other potential uses for the old portion of the Dr. Cooke facility, such as converting the 55-bed facility into suites for seniors.�That place, with a little conversion, they�re going to come away with at least 20 very nice rooms for extended care patients, perhaps a combination of assisted living and extended care,� said Rod Sellers of the Concerned Citizens for Seniors Care. �We have a functioning kitchen, laundry, we have a functioning facility there that is operating today that has been approved for three years into the future, why are we going to think about knocking it down?�Sellers was pleased with how many people showed their support on Monday night and he hopes they will continue to put pressure on the governments to take action on this issue.Vermilion-Lloydminster MLA Richard Starke was in attendance and he said it was a good reinforcement of important messages.�Certainly there is a great deal of concern of the overall state of senior care, not just the Dr. Cooke, but how we are going to move forward with the whole question of long-term and supported living and home care and other issues as it concerns seniors being active and good participants in our society,� he said in an interview after the meeting. �I think we�ve heard a lot of indication from people here that seniors want to continue the role they�ve had in the past, where they�re very active and contributing. We have to look for ways to be able to do that in ways that are also fitting to their needs.�Starke says he has taken these concerns to Minister of Infrastructure Wayne Drysdale, who confirmed that demolition of the old Dr. Cooke facility is still on hold, and Minister of Health Fred Horne, who has committed to tour the facility and meet with local stakeholders.�It�s an ongoing process, this is not something that sort of happens overnight, we have some decisions that need to be made, clearly there�s a lot of support in the community for maintaining the facility in some form,� he said.Dr. Raf Sayeed, also a member of the Concerned Citizens for Seniors Care, spoke at the meeting about a nursing home in Maidstone that was converted into 13 suites.This, he said, was just one example of what could be done with the Dr. Cooke facility.�There�s all kinds of options. Why tear a building down?� he said.�It was built two years after the Lloydminster Comprehensive High School. So please tell me, somebody, that the high school should be torn down too.�Sayeed also mentioned that the current wait lists for extended care facilities may not be accurate as there are surely people who haven�t been identified as needing extended care.�There is no proper way to assess the need for home care or the need for services at home or the kind of people who would do well in an assisted living situation, we don�t have the resources,� said Sayeed, adding that a survey would help alleviate the problem. �There�s many people in their homes who are just barely managing. Some of them, eventually, end up at the acute care hospital and perhaps with some support they could stay in their own homes longer.�At the end of the meeting, several residents took the microphone and spoke about bad experiences they�ve had with the health care system, including a woman whose elderly father died because he had been constipated and was not properly cared for.Starke called the personal stories told at the meeting �heart wrenching,� and he says stories like that compel him to do better.�I have heard other stories, and where there are situations where the health care system has failed people, those are very, very difficult incidents to hear,� said Starke.�We need to do better. I was in health care for a different kind of patient for nearly 30 years. And whenever we had a situation where I felt that we didn�t do as well as we should have, we moved as quickly as we could to improve the way we did things so that we did better because things don�t always go perfectly. And people don�t necessarily expect perfection but when there are flaws in the way things are delivered, you have to move as quickly as you can to address those flaws and to make things better.�By Thomas Miller, Lloydminster SourceThis article was published in the Lloydminster Source on October 19, 2012. Read the full article on the Lloydminster Source website.