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The New Supportive Living Licensing Act
We've just had another "public consultation", but you may have missed it.
The Department of Seniors is preparing Supportive Living Accommodation Legislation. The
notice was posted on a government website on August 15, with a Discussion Guide and a survey
that asked whether you agreed or not with some details. The consultation closed on August 27.
Over the last five years, the housing providers have been involved with the Seniors Ministry,
Alberta Health and Wellness, the health regions, and the Long Term Care Association in
developing the Standards for supportive accommodation, long term care facility accommodation,
and health care service standards. The draft versions were made public in 2005, in response to
the Auditor General's Seniors Report, and revised versions were implemented in regulations
earlier this year.
There were two public consultation sessions, in Calgary (August 21) and in Nisku (August 22);
invitations were sent to the Implementation Steering Committee (mostly Government, Health
Region and facility operator representatives) who have been developing the policies which will
define the legislation.
The 3-hour Nisku meeting was attended by about 60 people. There were very few members of
the public or users of the services present. There were more questions than time for discussion
allowed: Which facilities would need to be licensed and which wouldn't, and why? How would
other licensing requirements and monitoring agencies be coordinated? What services will be
provided? What's the potential for overlap or coordination with the care standards? How long
should conditional licensing be allowed? Will there be sanctions?
One person, in frustration, asked "What's the hurry?" The answer seemed to be that there was a
need for to license the housing components of continuing care. Well, that was true for years; but
the regulation is now in place.
We don't allow manufacturers to develop automobile safety standards, or restaurant owners to
develop food safety regulations and inspections; why should the health care and housing industry
define our continuing care services?
The absence of the public and users of the services from the "stakeholder groups" which define
the services, standards and protocols for administration is a concern. The MLA Task Force did,
under pressure, hold some public meetings two years ago to discuss the first drafts of the
continuing care standards; but we certainly didn't see changes to address the concerns raised at
We've needed to develop comprehensive public policy and legislation to make sense of the
mishmash of continuing care services for a long time. Indeed, that was a major theme in the
1988 Long Term Care Review Report and the later Broda Reports. Both recognized the need to
maintain and improve nursing home care for this population, and recommended expanding the
long term care system with alternatives for those who are still able to live relatively independently.
The concept of providing services in the community so folks can stay in their own homes longer
can work it works very well in some European countries but it depends on careful and
comprehensive planning, good assessment of personal, social and health care needs, and
adequate funding for a wide range of appropriate services. Most significantly, where it works
well, it supplements, and does not replace, the facility care that is needed for those who are most
seriously ill and impaired.
Perhaps the most worrying feature of this legislative initiative is the proposition that the
accommodation part of continuing care should be addressed in legislation separately from the