Elder Care Model
IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association encourage the Government of Alberta to create and develop an elder care model in our Province that will offer client directed services focused on standards of care.
WHEREAS it is the role of the government to provide for the safety, health, and welfare of people;
WHEREAS in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic the Government of Alberta has identified a growing crisis to maintain an acceptable level of care for our aging population;
WHEREAS changing demographics in the population growth of Alberta Seniors significantly influence the demand for and provision of aged care;
WHEREAS people seeking aged care should have the right to equitable access to services, the right to exercise choice between available services, the right to freedom from degrading treatment, or any form of abuse, the right to liberty, the right of autonomy and the right to make decisions about their care, the right to fair and non-discriminatory treatment and the right to offer opinions and make complaints; and
WHEREAS seniors in Alberta are demanding enhanced choices in the care and services they received.
In 2046, Alberta’s population is expected to:
Reach over 6.3 million people, an increase of roughly 2.0 million people from 2019, and
Become older, with an average age of 41.5 years, up from 38.3 years in 2019.
Albertans are expected to live longer on average, a girl born in Alberta in 2019 could expect to live to 83.6 years of age, while a boy could reach 79.0 years. Under the medium growth scenario, life expectancy at birth for females is projected to rise to 87.0 years by 2046, while for males it is expected to reach 83.7 years.
In 2019, people aged 65 and older represented about 13% of the population. Under the medium growth scenario one in five, or 20%, is expected to be 65 years or older by 2046. The number of seniors is expected to exceed 1.2 million by 2046
Standards of Care
Under a Ministry responsible for Seniors, specific responsibilities for the important functions should be assigned to a Senior’s Advocate or Commissioner whose duty would be to oversee and ensure:
Quality, safety, and prudential regulation
System management functions and funding administration
Ensuring that appropriate aged care services are widely available for BIPOC populations
Planning and development of the aged care workforce
Investigation and resolution of complaints
Systemic problems are serious and recurrent issues that stem from problems inherent in the design and operation of the aged care system. They may be funding, policy, cultural or operational issues. These systemic problems are interconnected. None of them exist in isolation and they often have a compounding effect on the quality and accessibility of aged care.
Aged Care Royal Commission Final Report: Summary (Australian example of a widely applied standard of care)
The Minister’s response does not respond directly to either resolution. Instead, the Minister lists ongoing initiatives intended to help seniors remain in their homes and delay the need to for facility-based care. These include:
- The Healthy Aging Alberta initiative, which focuses on sector development and coordination across community-based organizations delivering a variety of programs, services, information, and non-medical supports to older adults.
- A $3 million grant over three years to expand supports for caregivers during the pandemic and beyond.
- A $750,000 grant to the Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Council to support elder abuse prevention and intervention initiatives.
- A seniors’ mental health webinar series and age-friendly newsletters promoting mental health and addiction programs.
- Funding for initiatives that address social inclusion, social isolation, and mental wellness for diverse senior populations.
- Supporting the creation of an Alberta Age-Friendly Community of Practice, which helps communities in various stages of implementing their initiatives.
The Government of Alberta’s 2022 budget maintains, but does not increase, seniors’ financial supports. However, funding for community care, continuing care, and home care programs was increased by 6.3% to a total of nearly $3.7 billion. This funding will support more Albertans to receive care and support in their home communities, as well as to build 1,515 new continuing care beds.
In December 2021, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos was appointed Minister of Health Canada and mandated with negotiating agreements with provinces and territories to support efforts to improve the quality and availability of long-term care homes and beds. This mandate item includes working with provinces and territories to improve infection prevention and control measures, identifying shared principles, and developing national standards and a Safe Long-Term Care Act to ensure seniors get the care they deserve. The Minister is also tasked with working with the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Disability Inclusion Canada to train up to 50,000 new personal support workers and raise their wages. It's not clear whether provinces would be compelled to adopt and enforce the standards in federal legislation, or whether they would have the option of drafting their own revised standards
On March 28, 2022, Bill 11, the Continuing Care Act, was tabled in the Legislature. This bill will replace six pieces of legislation and six regulations, some dating back to 1985, and give more authority to the Minister of Health to monitor and enforce compliance in long-term care, supportive living, assisted living, home care, and palliative care. The bill was tabled in response to a 2021 MNP report on facility-based continuing care containing 42 recommendations. Recommendations included shifting to more home care, and increasing the hours of care provided to facility residents, which would mean hiring nearly 6,000 full-time equivalent staff at a potential cost of $410 million. The review projected the demand for continuing care services to grow by 62 per cent by 2030. New regulations and standards associated with the bill are anticipated to established by spring 2023. Bill 11 has been criticized by Friends of Medicare, who note the lack of provisions in the bill to address staff-to-patient ratios, mandate minimum care hours, or improve care and working conditions.
The ABMunis Board approved taking the following actions regarding the province’s response to the resolutions related to seniors:
- Categorize the responses as “intent not met – further action will be taken.”
- Reach out to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to learn about their advocacy on this issue and any provincial/territorial associations that could be advocacy partners on this issue.
- Request a meeting with Healthy Aging Alberta representatives to explore opportunities for joint advocacy and municipal action.
- Monitor the passage of Bill 11 in the Legislature and promote and participate in opportunities to provide input on the development of associated standards and regulations.
- Monitor federal budgeting and activities related to the development of national long-term care standards and a Safe Long-Term Care Act.