The NDP government has started putting some of the meat on the bones of last week’s Alberta budget.
On Monday, from the home of Jaye Frederickson, who suffers from ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), Health Minister Sarah Hoffman outlined specifics of a budget commitment to add $200-million for home care and community care. The increase brings total funding for home care and community care to more than $2-billion in 2017-18.
Hoffman said the services are used by Albertans of all ages whose independence are challenged by illness, physical or mental limitations.
“This is a practical investment that is going to make a difference in the lives of Albertans of all ages by delivering home care right to their door,” Hoffman said.
Dr. Kathryn Todd, vice president of research, innovation and analytics for Alberta Health Services, told an Edmonton news conference the number of Albertans 65 and over has increased to almost 500,000 – nearly double the number from a decade ago. The number of home care clients has increased by 20 per cent to 116,000 in just the last six years.
“The key here is that we must actually re-orient our health system with the social infrastructure in order to deliver the right care, in the right place, at the right time, with the right provider and with the right evidence,” Todd said.
“This includes providing not only health care in communities, but also self-help services, enhancements in primary care, addressing senior-friendly housing and transportation issues, and, of course, tackling the really important issue of social isolation sometimes that exists in people that remain in their homes and their communities.”
Jaye Frederickson was diagnosed with ALS in 2008. With the help of home care and community care she was able to keep working for the first two years after her diagnosis. “Somebody would come to work and take me to the bathroom. They’d help me through the day,” Frederickson said. “I’d come home, somebody would help me get cleaned up. And it kept my life normal for about two years.”
When she was no longer able to go to work, Frederickson and her husband were able to stay in the home they had renovated to accommodate her illness. “It’s really important to us that we’re able to stay at home, next to our neighbours, with our son and just to keep the family together. And it keeps me healthier, I believe.”
The money announced in last week’s budget will provide seniors and Albertans with disabilities access to services including nursing and personal assistance, day programs, respite relief for family members, palliative care and wound care.