Survey of seniors’ care workers shows need for long term care spaces

EDMONTON – A survey of 561 employees of long term care and residential care facilities in Alberta shows little improvement in the conditions of the province’s seniors’ facilities.

The survey, conducted by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), provides evidence that the Stelmach government policy emphasizing assisted living over long term care is leaving many seniors without the services they need. 

CUPE Alberta President Dennis Mol reported that over eighty percent of responses from employees of assisted living facilities noted residents need more health care than their facility provides.

“Seniors are being denied the health care they need,” said Mol.  “And what’s worse, they are being gouged for the minimal services they do receive.”

 “Our members in assisted living facilities are telling us there are residents who can’t get long term care, even though they need it.  Furthermore, the staff feel that they don’t have the training to provide proper care to those residents.” 

In December, CUPE called upon Premier Stelmach to keep an election promise to build 600 new long term care spaces in the province.  So far none have been built. 

“Last month, we collected thousands of postcards from residents and family members calling on Mr. Stelmach to keep his promise,” said Mol.  “Today, we are hearing from the staff of these facilities, and their message is exactly the same.” 

The results of the survey reveal a number of problems at all levels of senior and long term care.  Results include:

  • 73% of respondents report staffing levels are not high enough to keep up with resident needs.
  • 89% of respondents in long term care, and 67% of respondents in resident care report little or no time for one-on-one care.
  • 53% of respondents report that equipment is out of dates or in bad repair.
  • 82% of respondents report that residents require more support than can be provided in a lodge/residential setting.
  • 71% of respondents report residents on wait lists for long term care.
  • 58% of respondents in residential facilities and 87% of respondents in long term care report shortages of staff on weekends.
  • 62% of respondents report not having the training to deal with complex medical problems of residents. 

“Four years after the Auditor General’s report on the state of seniors’ care in Alberta, the system is still in chaos,” said Mol.  “The Conservatives promised to do better.  Mr. Stelmach promised more spaces to cut waitlists.  He’s broken his promise.” 

“The Conservatives promised better staffing levels, but this survey shows near universal opinion among staff that one-to-one care isn’t happening,” said Mol.  “What is most clear is that the Conservatives have failed seniors, and failed Alberta families.” 

Lou Arab, Communications Representative

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