CITIZEN WATCH has been created as a public service for the people of Alberta. It is the work of an ever-widening network of individuals from across the province, including families and friends of long term care and assisted or supportive living residents and those requiring long term care supports in their own homes.
We met for the first time in 2003 to share our knowledge, perspectives, experiences and growing concerns primarily regarding Alberta’s rapidly changing long term care system – now referred to as “continuing care”.
Our basic premise is that deficiencies, inefficiencies, and cost-cutting measures within this system impact not just the well-being and quality of life of residents – but also the well-being and quality of life of their families, our communities and society in general.
On September 5th 2003, we made a formal request to the Auditor General of Alberta to investigate the current situation in traditional long term care facilities, including a value for money audit of the system and practices within the system. We provided documentation supporting the unacceptability of the status quo, and our efforts to influence government to acknowledge and respond to the problem. Supplementary external references on deficiencies in assisted or supportive living settings and regional home care programs were also submitted.
On May 9th 2005, the Auditor General released his first-ever Report on Seniors Care and Programs. It revealed what we and many others anticipated. Current Government systems for ensuring the delivery of quality care and programs in traditional long term care facilities were found significantly inadequate or non-existent. Of the 25 audited facilities, none met all 23 audit criteria. The high rate of partly met or unmet standards among sample facilities led the audit team to conclude there is a strong likelihood of non-compliance in long term care facilities across Alberta, with a resulting risk of diminished quality of care. The audit also determined the government of Alberta has no system for monitoring compliance with Seniors [Public] Lodge Standards. Care and housing standards for new supportive and assisted living settings were found to be non-existent. Other identified deficiencies included the lack of measures to determine whether the Alberta Seniors Benefit (ASB) is sufficient to meet the needs of seniors.
In an effort to restore public confidence, the government promised swift action on the Auditor General’s recommendations.
We are here (with your help and support) to watch and to report to you the results of our analysis of information we receive from recipients of continuing care services and their families indicating whether they are better or worse off for actions taken by the Alberta government on the province’s continuing care system.