Alberta Health moves ahead with closing multi-person rooms at continuing care facilities

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — Just a handful of multi-resident rooms remain in Alberta’s continuing care facilities, down from approximately 50 in May.

“We have made significant progress in reducing the number of multi-resident rooms, or ward rooms, in publicly funded facility-based continuing care with just five remaining rooms, accommodating 15 residents in Alberta,” stated Alberta Health.

Back in May, the government announced big changes were being made after the pandemic highlighted some major failings.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced a 217-page report with 42 recommendations, looking to transform and modernize Alberta’s facility-based continuing care system.

READ MORE: Private rooms, loved ones to be paired together: 42 recommendations in report on Alberta’s continuing care

At that time, he explained some recommendations would be implemented as of July 1.

“Continuing care facilities will no longer admit residents into shared rooms that already have two residents,” he said.

“It’s based on one of the key learning’s from COVID-19, we’ve all learned about the importance of physical distancing to help to reduce transmissions. Multi-resident rooms are among the biggest risk factors for infection control in continuing care.”

Friends of Medicare Executive Director Sandra Azocar agrees this is a good way to mitigate infection in residential facilities.

“However, it leaves a whole bunch of other concerns on the table and for us, it’s actually the problem of affordability when it comes to continuing care and how much of the recommendations of that report, the facility-based review, actually changed the as to who pays for the services.

RELATED: Pandemic changed people’s views on their future in long-term care, survey suggests

Azocar explains many seniors who accessed wardrooms couldn’t afford anything else.

“You have a system that has become so cost prohibiting for low-income and medium-income seniors. It’s a huge issue that hasn’t been addressed,” she said, adding monthly a standard room is approximately $1,754.

A semi-private room is about $1,845 and a private room is around $2,132.

She points to one of the recommendations which hugely concerns them.

“The fact that care operators can not only make annual fee increases beyond the core inflation rate for Alberta, they’ve given them basically the ability to raise these accommodation rates to whatever amount they see fit,” she said.

“As we move forward with some of these recommendations this is going to be even more of an issue for those seniors that lived on a very limited or fixed income.”

The next step will be to develop an action plan for implementation. Shandro says they are aiming to have an action plan in place this fall, which will have a range of deadlines for implementation.

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