In Alberta, we’ve begun to recognize that populations have changed significantly since funding models were developed in the mid-1990s, and there is a province-wide effort to increase care hours beginning in 2023.
A typical resident in long-term care is allotted a certain amount of direct nursing care time from each staff type, plus some additional time from rehabilitation professionals and dietitians. Due to shifts in the composition of today’s long-living seniors, there are now recommendations nationally and in many provinces to increase direct care time from 3.02 total hours per day to 4.1 or more hours — that’s a recommended 36% increase in staff time.
This call for change is largely due to the number of residents with dementia, who often need more care and staff time. Funding models don’t always recognize dementia as a complex health issue requiring more time and specialized support for every aspect of daily living.
Care Time Allotment
The funding formula for long-term care spells out how many minutes of time each resident should receive, on average, by each type of care professional. Under the formula, relatively health residents are allocated less time than more ill or frail residents. It is well known that residents with dementia need more care and staff time, but funding doesn’t always recognize dementia as a complex health issue requiring more time and specialized supports.
|Alberta Direct Nursing Time By Staff Type
|Nursing Care Type
|Nursing Care TypeRegistered Nurse
|Low Acuity17 minutes per 24 hrs
|Average Acuity31 minutes
|High Acuity68 minutes
|Nursing Care TypeLicensed practical nurse
|Low Acuity12 minutes per 24 hrs
|Average Acuity22 minutes
|High Acuity49 minutes
|Nursing Care TypeHealth care aide
|Low Acuity68 minutes per 24 hrs
|Average Acuity2 hrs, 8 minutes
|High Acuity4 hrs, 43 minutes
Average LTC Length Of Stay (LOS) In Years
Length of stay (LOS) is a system metric that helps us understand how long residents live in a care facility. The average LOS in long-term care has been dropping for two decades. Most of today’s LTC residents are in the last 12-18 months of life. This is a reflection of a population today that has more frailty and complexity than in previous decades.