EDMONTON – Alberta is putting patients first by reviewing some recent decisions regarding palliative, home care and continuing care placement. The aim is to ensure ongoing staffing and provider changes initiated by Alberta Health Services (AHS) don’t negatively affect access and quality of care.
“We’ve moved quickly to change the way these services are provided with an eye to reinvesting savings into expanded care,” said Dr. Chris Eagle, AHS President and CEO. “But we also need to ensure that patient care is not compromised.”
As a first step, AHS has reversed a decision to cancel home care contracts with three Edmonton-based supportive living cooperatives, recognizing the unique, specialized care they provide. The three providers are Abbey Road Housing Co-operative, Artspace Housing Co-operative and Creekside Support Services.
“This is about more than just health care – it’s about maintaining a quality of life that Albertans deserve,” said Health Minister Fred Horne. “Shortly after we appointed Administrator Janet Davidson, AHS is already making important progress.”
As well, the ‘first available bed’ policy which required continuing care residents to accept a placement within 100 kilometres of their home is withdrawn effective immediately.
“We want our seniors to age alongside the ones they love. Decisions about continuing care placement must start with supporting seniors as close to home as possible, and doing all we can to keep couples together,” said Minister Horne.
“After consulting with Ms. Davidson, we agree on the need to tackle both the policy change and how we arrived at that policy,” said Dr. Eagle. “It’s the right time to reflect on whether the changes we’re making are what’s best for residents and how we can more effectively engage the community in general, and seniors in particular.”
AHS has reached an agreement with 13 home care providers to provide care and support to Calgary and Edmonton clients as home care services expand. It will work with the providers to see if there is an ongoing role for current providers who provide specialized services.
“The current model with 42 providers is not what’s best for patients in terms of maintaining care standards and accountability, and it is not cost-effective. But the model does not have to be ‘one size fits all’ if local providers can show that they provide unique support,” Dr. Eagle said.
AHS will also look at opportunities to:
• Allow existing current home care arrangements established by patient/client cooperatives to continue unchanged.
• Allow home care services for specialized and high-needs client groups in the community to continue unchanged.
• Address the impact of changes to palliative home care services to ensure access and quality of care.
Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than 3.9 million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.