Local family forced to accept substandard care for seniors

Province forcing moves of long-term care patients

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2013 06:00 am | BY TIM LASIUTA

Nan Barclay, a local senior citizen enduring progressive dementia, is being evicted by Alberta Health Services from the Innisfail Hospital and Care Centre.

She is an 88-year-old lifelong resident of Innisfail and is fighting for her life, but not just against her current condition, but rather a system that has turned its back on seniors in acute care, says her daughter Jean Barclay.

Innisfail/Sylvan Lake Wildrose MLA Kerry Towle has stepped into the fray -- charging that AHS is now threatening the family, adding that she is prepared to fight a long battle on the family’s behalf.

“My mother has lived her entire life in Innisfail, and recently was moved to Innisfail hospital acute care wing for broken hip recovery awaiting SL4D (supportive living level four dementia) placement. She has recently been re-evaluated with long-term care status,” Jean said. “With her condition, any change in surroundings greatly decreases her quality of life.”

Jean said AHS wanted her mother moved to Bethany Care in Red Deer on Nov. 21, as there are no beds in Innisfail.

“Right now, my husband and I, and a team of three caregivers look after my mom so she receives adequate care, all at our personal cost,” she said.

Jean and her husband recently toured Bethany CollegeSide to see what level of care she would receive, and what conditions she would live in. She said she was “shocked, disappointed, and depressed” at the dementia patient care facility.

“The ratio of care workers to dementia diagnosed patients was 28 to one at nighttime,” said Jean. “My mother cannot walk well, so when she is likely to wander, as dementia patients are at night, any slight fall or injury could be fatal.”

She said what was more astounding to her was that care attendants at Bethany admitted that prior budget cuts months before had resulted in fewer staff members.

Jean contacted Towle to get her assistance with care for her ailing mother. Towle, who said she’s heard stories like this before all across Alberta, and from all parties, was ready to help. She and her staff are meeting with associate minister of seniors George VanderBurg, in order to get answers and alternatives for the Barclay family.

“We are taking the stand that this move to Bethany CollegeSide will be detrimental to Nan’s health,” said Towle. “As research into cognitive Alzheimer’s has shown, environmental changes have a negative effect upon a patient’s health, and Nan has been moved a few times already. We prefer that she stay where she is until a bed is found in Innisfail.

“I advised Jean to refuse the placement in Bethany CollegeSide as hard as that will be on the family,” added Towle. “Other families have gone through the same thing, and refused beds. She will be threatened by AHS, and they will try to charge her up to $1,200 per day for acute care. This will be a long fight.”

Jean has been in contact with Jody Barrett, placement coordinator for Alberta Health Services residential continuing care services, regarding her mother’s move. She said she has refused the bed, and will not be moving her mother to Red Deer.

When asked by the Province for a comment on the Barclay situation, Barrett responded with “I don’t think I can speak with you.” Eric Johnson, communications officer for Alberta Health Services, returned a call but then said the associate minister of seniors’ office would call to comment. At press time, the minister’s office had not returned the Province’s repeated requests for comment.

“If we do move her into Bethany, there will be no one to help take care of her,” said Jean. “A move would be as hard on us as it would be on my mom. Our caregiving team cannot drive to Red Deer every day.”

Towle pointed out that situations like the Nan Barclay case point out the failure of Alberta’s centralized health-care system.

“It seems that AHS policy and procedure has trumped individualized patient care and ignored its effect upon their families,” said Towle. “One important aspect of this, and other similar situations, is the 100-kilometre, first bed available rule that was supposed to be rescinded, but was not. In essence, according to policy, acute care patients must be moved to an available bed if offered, once one is available within 100 kilometres of their home.”

Jean said this will not be happening for her family, but she is ready for the storm that may follow.

“We know there will be repercussions, but other families are ready to step up and tell their stories,” Jean said. “My mom turns 88 on November 23, and a move to Red Deer would be devastating. It is not right that people like my mom are being forced to move when they are near the end of their lives.”


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