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Wednesday, 25 July 2012 09:17

Communication in regards to Little Bow Continuing Care Centre

Written by  Rose Sanchez
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The Little Bow Continuing Care Centre in Carmangay is facing closure. It’s a 20-bed seniors’ facility specializing in care for individuals who suffer from dementia and Alzheimers, but it’s more than that to the 275 residents of the community.

Employing about 40 people (including full-time, part-time and casual), it represents a quarter of the community’s workforce. Many community members volunteer their time to visit the centre’s residents. Families have moved to Carmangay to be closer to their loved ones in the facility and there is a concern about the effects a major move will have on these patients who do best with routine.

Alberta Health Services is closing the facility because it is old. Built in the 1950s, AHS officials say the facility doesn’t meet 2012 building code standards and to bring it up to snuff would cost too much money.
The Tory government in many documents has stated a commitment to seniors’ care and aging in place. They want to see seniors be able to remain in their homes, close to loved ones and receive the care they need as they age. The Continuing Care Strategy in 2008 stated: “We know from consulting with Albertans that most seniors and patients with chronic illness or disabilities would prefer to receive health care and personal care services in their own homes, or in community-based home-like settings.”
Strategy 2 of that same plan states: “...resources will be spent on renovations to the province’s older facilities making them suitable for our changing health needs and improving the comfort of residents.”
So what changed? Why now does Alberta Health Services want to close a facility that is being used for the kind of care that is in demand and that demand is only increasing?
It appears a decision has been made based on numbers on a page and how they add up.
How many buildings today don’t meet present-day building code standards? Anyone living in a home that’s more than 10 years old? What about other seniors’ facilities in the province? How many do not meet 2012 building code standards and could be deemed too expensive to renovate or upgrade? How about schools? How many school facilities don’t meet 2012 building code standards? Who decides that every facility needs to meet these standards? Just how old is too old?
Sometimes decisions aren’t black and white and can’t be made based solely on numbers. Just because a building doesn’t meet one person’s standards in one area, doesn’t mean it isn’t exceeding standards in other countless areas that are more important. What about the relationships formed in that facility? What about the type of care clients are receiving? What about the fact families are able to visit every day for as long as they want without the hardship of driving? What about the fact 20 beds are being closed — specialized beds — that aren’t being replaced? What about the impact this closure will have on a small, rural community in Alberta?
 Bricks and mortar aren’t the heart and soul of the facility — the people are. AHS officials may have forgotten this when deciding so quickly the fate of this facility, sitting around the table in a tall office building in a city of more than a million people. The decision has been made without gathering the views of the effected staff, residents and families. The “how” and not the “why” is the real issue at stake.
Eighty-year-old Doreen Miller, whose almost 100-year-old mother is in the Little Bow Continuing Care Centre, likely summed it up the best when she said, “This was very deviously done ... It’s an insult to our intelligence and a betrayal of the people in there that we weren’t told (about its closure).”
Premier Allison Redford has always spouted the importance of public input and listening to voters. She made it seem as if the Tories would heed Albertans’ advice, listen to Albertans’ ideas and determine the best strategies moving the province forward. Making a decision to close a facility without consultation with the public isn’t the “new Tories” that were handed a majority government. Redford claimed “these aren’t your grandfather’s Tories,” but their actions are speaking louder than their words.
Rose Sanchez is assistant managing editor of the Prairie Post. Contact her with your comments about this opinion piece at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Read 1313 times Last modified on Wednesday, 25 July 2012 16:13