Media releases | February 08, 2008

EDMONTON—The Seniors Task Force of Public Interest Alberta and The Seniors’ Action and Liaison Team (SALT) held a media conference today to release new reports into the growing crisis in seniors care in Alberta.“There are far too many seniors and their families throughout Alberta who are unable to access sufficient homecare to allow them to stay in their own homes and who are not able to get the level of care that they need in our increasingly privatized continuing care system,” said Noel Somerville, Chairperson of PIA’s Seniors Task Force. “When you examine the comparison of seniors care in our nine health regions, you see a rapidly growing reliance on for-profit long-term care and very limited support for expanding the public homecare and long-term care system to meet our growing senior’s population.”The Seniors’ Action and Liaison Team challenged the government in their two new reports to live up to the promises they made dating back to the year 2000. (“Alberta Elders are Worried” and “The Promises (2000) and the Reality (2008)”)“After a decade of watching the depletion of both the health care and social care budgets, it was reassuring in 2000 to hear our government announce a 3 year plan to deliver comprehensive and integrated care services for frail and chronically ill seniors”, said Carol Wodak, long time seniors advocate and author of the two reports. “It has been dismaying to find how far the realities in 2008 are from the promises made in the 3-year plan. With the inclusion of private providers, the confusion of who pays for what, what is essential and what is an extra service is overwhelming to deal with. Wait lists and wait times have increased and the staffing crisis is getting worse.”Chris and Dick Swaren, two retired United Church ministers recounted the on-going stress and frustration they faced while trying to find home care and access to long-term care for a close friend. “We had no idea how difficult it is to try to get enough care for a senior in this wealthy province of ours. Unless you have someone who can really advocate for you, seniors must be suffering without adequate supports and force to relocate to get the care they need,” said Dick Swaren.Brian Staples, Chairperson of SALT said, “This is not a responsibility that can be delegated to individuals, their families, or the private market. In the same way that we care for frail and sick infants at the beginning of life, so also should we care for frail and sick elders at the end of life. We are not getting any younger. We need the human and financial resources for continuing care now.”- 30 -