Wednesday, 19 June 2013 10:55

Seniors care discussed at Medicine Hat FOM meeting

Written by 
Rate this item
(0 votes)
Colin Zeiber, executive director of seniors’ health for Alberta Health Services (AHS) South Zone talked about seniors’ care in southeast Alberta at a recent Palliser Friends of Medicare meeting. Colin Zeiber, executive director of seniors’ health for Alberta Health Services (AHS) South Zone talked about seniors’ care in southeast Alberta at a recent Palliser Friends of Medicare meeting. Photo by Rose Sanchez

Individuals in Medicine Hat had a chance to gain better insight into seniors’ services in southeast Alberta thanks to an informational meeting held by Palliser Friends of Medicare.


Colin Zeiber, executive director of seniors’ health for Alberta Health Services (AHS) South Zone, spoke at the informational meeting June 10.
“The highest percentage of seniors in the province are in the South Zone,” he told the audience of about 35 people. “What the other parts of the province are facing now, we’ve been living with for years.”
Seniors’ care has changed dramatically with more people wanting choices in their care, such as having a shower as opposed to a bath, when they rise in the morning or the meals they consume. Seniors want choices in the level of care they receive.
“More people ... are wanting to receive care in their own homes,” adds Zeiber. “We’ve seen over the years a lot more interest in flexible home-care assistance.”
In the Medicine Hat area there are more than 1,650 clients accessing home-care services. That’s a 50 per cent increase from a decade ago.
One area of home-care service that has increased is seniors who want assistance for a few months as they recover from surgeries, such as hip replacements.
Zeiber walked the audience through the different types of seniors’ care which fall into three streams — home living, supportive living and facility living. Within supportive living are four levels of care from just some scheduled care to requiring an LPN’s care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Facility living is described as long-term care or a nursing home.
An audience member asked if there have been cutbacks to home-care services in Medicine Hat. Zeiber says home-care in southeast Alberta is supplied internally by AHS and there have been no cuts, nor, as far as he is aware, is there any plan to make cuts. The home-care controversy with cuts was in the larger centres of Calgary and Edmonton.
Home-care teams based in Medicine Hat do assessments for placement for seniors. Anyone can contact home-care including seniors, their children or physicians.
“We want to make the system simple to access,” adds Zeiber. “Home care really is the entry point for seniors ... Anyone can contact home care. You don’t need a doctor’s referral, but we definitely want physician involvement.”
There is monitoring of seniors’ residences by two different bodies — Alberta Health monitors accommodation standards while both Alberta Health and AHS monitor health standards.
In the last year, additional home-care services have been added to southeast Alberta including in Bassano, Oyen, Brooks and Bow Island.
In the seniors’ home in Bow Island, which sits next to the hospital, the decision was made to contract up to 20 beds for unscheduled care and have facility’s staff deliver that care. That way, residents who are fairly independent, don’t have to leave the facility and go to long-term care in the hospital. That also has freed up time for home-care workers to now be in the community visiting people in their homes as opposed to at that lodge.
A nurse practitioner has been added to the home-care team in southeast Alberta along with individuals who specialize in occupational and physical therapies.
In total, an additional $3 million in staffing has been added to the area represented by the former Palliser Health Region, says Zeiber.
There are challenges because of the large geographical area, but home-care workers do travel to smaller communities such as Cereal, Acadia Valley, and Foremost, just to name a few.
“It’s really a balancing act supporting people in rural and remote areas,” adds Zeiber.
“I’m impressed with the people in southeast Alberta — how resourceful and how supportive families are ... It’s amazing to see how communities rally around one another.”
The Palliser Friends of Medicare have created A Guide to Long-Term Care which helps to explain how long-term care is accessed and the processes involved. It was available at the meeting June 10.
More information about Friends of Medicare is available online at: http://www.friendsof medicare.org.

Read 12356 times Last modified on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 11:04
Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor

More Alberta News...