We're updating our website, to make the site more accessible.

There is some new material, including several Perspectives articles and new Resource articles and links, and a search function.

We'll be adding new articles and reports; in particular, we're looking forward to the Health Quality Council of Alberta's Long-term Care Resident and Family Experience Survey, which should be out early in 2008.

We'd welcome any comments, questions, and suggestions for articles or resources. We believe the experience of persons in the continuing care system is the most important measure of its success; we'd like to know your concerns, and what's working well.

We hope you'll visit again!

 NEW April 2008 The Alberta Auditor General issued his April 2008 Report. We have posted the section on Seniors Care and Programs (go to http://www.oag.ab.ca/ for the full report), and a Commentary on his 2005 special Report on Seniors Care and Programs, and his 2006 and 2008 reviews of progress
Auditor General Report on Seniors Care and Programs April 2008
Commentary on the Auditor General Reports on Seniors Care and Services April 2008
 The Seniors' Action and Liaison Team's Brief on Continuing Care 2008 includes two new reports: Alberta's Elders Are Worried!, which discusses the biggest issues facing Alberta seniors today; and The Promises and The Realities, which highlights the difference between government promises and action over the last 8 years.
Full Details

NEW March 2008 Out of Control: Violence against Personal Support Workers in Long-Term Care documents a correlation between high levels of violence and the heavy workloads placed on Canadian staff, and compares this with the experience in Nordic countries with much higher staffing levels.
Full Details
Editorial note: the study focuses on the safety issues for staff; our experience is that residents are even more vulnerable to risk from violence in these situations.

Part Two of the Special Senate Committee on Aging Report, addressing active aging; older workers, retirement and income security; healthy aging; supports to aging in place of choice; and the regional distribution of health costs associated with aging.
Full Details

 NEW Feb 2008 Broken Promises: Families in Crisis
A personal story of one senior couple's experience with the reality of home care and family supports while caring for an elderly friend in their home.
Full Details

Watch the video from CBC News item from Feb. 26, 2008, Seniors Caring for Seniors, with Chris and Dick Swaren talking about caring for Ruth.

December 27, 2007
Website updated with new reports:

Missing Pieces: Conversion of a Nursing Home to Designated Assisted Living

Reading the Fine Print: Long Term Care Insurance

Care Needs and Care Funding

Hours of Care

Aged Care A Growth Industry for Investors

Continuing Care Crisis Worsens

December 18, 2007
CBC News reports that despite a Health Canada warning in June 2005 about the dangers of prescribing anti-psychotic drugs to seniors with mild dementia, doctors continue to prescribe these drugs.

December, 2007

Since the release of the Auditor General's scathing report of Seniors Care and Programs in May 2005, Citizen Watch has increased its efforts to monitor the province's continuing care system.

Some of us work as advocates for residents in care settings.
Some of us research the policies, programs, and "initiatives" which underlie planning and management of continuing care.
Some of us track media stories testifying to the experiences of frail Albertans in care, while others of us collect government statistics, industry newsletters, and research reports from professionals in the field.

The information we have gathered over the past 2 years alone clearly shows the system remains woefully inadequate despite the Auditor General's report and despite actions taken by the government to address the system's problems.

To alert the Alberta government to our findings, we made submissions, provided reports, and written letters to describe real problems that need constructive remedial action. In letters of response, we're told the Government is spending a lot of money on this initiative or that project, Alberta is spending more than other provinces on health care, seniors care and benefits and the "Aging in Place" plan is what Albertans want. We're told "providing safe, quality continuing care services to all Albertans who require them is a priority for this government." And, we're told "The Government of Alberta is committed to meeting the needs of our aging population."

But from what we observe and know, it is painfully obvious that residents' health, safety and quality of the life are being seriously compromised by unaddressed failures at the government, regional and facility levels.

To our dismay, the Government seems to have complete and absolute faith in their "plan". And to our disappointment, they have neglected to do any qualitative assessment to determine where, how and why the system is breaking down, and the impact on residents' lives. Instead, the ever-increasing evidence of widespread system failures is discounted as "anecdotal"; the experience of individuals is dismissed.

With the selection of Ed Stelmach as Premier in January 2007, individual members of Citizen Watch sent him two letters, based on his public statements during his leadership campaign and as Premier, that he would both "listen to Albertans" and work to improve the care of the ill elderly. Lynda Jonson's letter addressed particular concerns about the conversion of the Mountain View Care Centre in Hinton to an Assisted Living Facility in 2005. Jonson and Premier Stelmach. The letter from Bev McKay and Carol Wodak asked for an opportunity to meet with him to discuss how the continuing care system might be improved. In both cases, the eventual replies (not from the Premier) simply inferred 'don't worry, we've taken the appropriate action and everything is going to be all right.'

A year later, the residents and families of the Hinton facility have seen further declines in care, and we continue to document the same concerns about the decreasing availability and quality of care throughout the system. The only noticeable change throughout the system is that ever-increasing staff shortages have added a new layer of care deficiencies.

A 2007 newsletter from the Alberta Continuing Care Association of Alberta to the province's MLAs calls for more money "to meet the needs of residents and address the growing burden of regulation and monitoring." Citizen Watch believes more money doesn't automatically ensure better care, better quality of life for residents. For the sake of accountability and transparency, we also believe it's critical for the Auditor General to determine just how and where current funding to the industry is being spent.

Citizen Watch