Declaration for Change: Families Advocating for Compassionate Eldercare (FACE)

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FACE families have seen their parents, grandparents, and loved ones fall through the cracks of Alberta’s continuing care system. They have witnessed them mistreated, neglected, forgotten, and ignored. The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the significant gaps in the system.

FACE demands change on behalf of seniors who cannot advocate for themselves. The Government of Alberta, Alberta Health Services (AHS), and private continuing care operators know the solutions, but they lack the will to implement them.

FACE demands immediate action on three fronts.

1. Compassionate Care Ratios

Thousands of nurses, healthcare aides, and allied health providers work hard every day, but struggle to deliver the best care possible with impossibly high resident-to-provider ratios.

Our families have seen firsthand:

  • how one healthcare aide struggles to provide care to 20 high-need seniors;
  • how healthcare aides rush to serve food for half of their shift and then attempt to bathe, dress, and toilet a floor of seniors with dementia and limited mobility;
  • how ratios worsen even more due to unexpected staff absences and employers’ failures to plan ahead; and
  • how for-profit providers create poor work environments for their staff, who are discouraged from taking sick days when they are ill for fear of leaving their teams even more short-staffed.

This must stop.

FACE demands that the Government of Alberta immediately commit to implement legislated ratios of nurses, healthcare aides, and allied health providers in all continuing care settings.

2. Accountability and Regulations

The Government of Alberta is responsible for enforcing and upholding the standards it creates for continuing care operators. FACE knows the Government is failing in that responsibility. FACE has seen negligent and callous continuing care providers permitted to continue operating with impunity.

In an effort to hold all parties accountable for negligence and neglect, FACE families have struggled through the many avenues open to concerned relatives:

  • AHS investigations and appeals;
  • Freedom of information requests;
  • Meetings with MLAs, ministers, opposition critics, and the Premier; and
  • Investigations and proven claims with Protection of Persons in Care.

None of these actions have resulted in change or accountability.

FACE demands that the Government of Alberta immediately strengthen legislated penalties for non-compliance with care and accommodation standards.

FACE demands that the Government of Alberta immediately direct AHS to perform proactive, unannounced inspections and to use rapidly escalating enforcement action – including steep fines – when providers are non-compliant.

FACE demands that detailed reports of all inspections be posted proactively on a publicly accessible website.

3. Affordable and Compassionate Alternatives

Alberta spends more than a billion dollars annually on continuing care. Smarter and more efficient allocation of that budget could provide better and more compassionate continuing care alternatives to Alberta’s seniors.

Our experience shows us that we are not getting good value for our money. For-profit providers funnel taxpayer and continuing care resident money into their shareholder dividends instead of into resident care.

FACE members have seen parents and grandparents – married for decades – cruelly separated by heartless policies.

There are alternatives.

For example, the Green House Project, leases homes in several Alberta communities and converts them into small-scale personal care homes with up to fifteen residents each, staffed by healthcare aides and on-call nurses. Personal Care Homes require no government capital investments, have compassionate ratios for care, and create family- and community-centered living environments. They can accommodate couples, and they cost less to operate than institutional long-term care. No government funding currently supports this model of care.

Other cost effective and compassionate alternatives abound.

FACE demands that the Government of Alberta immediately fund personal care homes at the same per-resident level as institutional long-term care facilities.

FACE demands that the Government of Alberta immediately implement innovative pilot projects through the province to move beyond the one model system of institutional care for seniors.