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NB. The information outlined in Ms. Lai’s report, “Alberta’s Continuing Care System” was not shared with Albertans until 2013.
In April of this year, Ms. Vivien Lai, a senior policy advisor with Alberta Health and Wellness made a presentation at a symposium in Japan. Entitled “Alberta’s Continuing Care System,” this presentation outlined with scary candor the changes Alberta has been making and plans to make in light of an anticipated increase in the percentage of our provinces’ population aged 65 or older (from 10% in 2006 to 21% in 2030).
The first victim is the long-term care facility (nursing homes) that the government sees as a needlessly expensive way of caring for seniors. A few years ago, nursing homes provided full nursing, medication, personal care, rehabilitation and physiotherapy to disabled adults and ‘frail seniors’ — those who require help getting out of bed, toileting, getting dressed, getting to and from the dining room, feeding, administering medication, etc — all covered under Medicare.
The first step in dismantling this system is called “unbundling” and separates the costs of health and housing services. The presentation states “Individuals are responsible for paying fully their room and board costs in long-term care facilities. Since 2003, accommodation charges in nursing homes have been increased to reflect the actual costs of room and board so that those who can afford it have to pay the full cost.”
The second step has recently emerged in several locations in Alberta where long-term care facilities have been converted to various forms of “assisted living” in which even the medical care, beyond the restricted amount that RHAs provide as Homecare, is a billed ‘extra’.
From United Nurses of Alberta NewsBulletin – Volume 3 # 5 – November December 2007