Why more care hours are needed

In Alberta we’ve begun to recognize that populations have changed significantly since funding models were developed in the mid-1990s, and there has been a province-wide effort to increase care hours beginning in 2023. This call for change is largely due to two factors:

  • The increasing proportion of care home 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 supports for every aspect of daily living.

  • The increase in overall acuity and frailty of residents in care today. This is largely due to a majority of residents choosing to remain at home for as long as possibly — meaning those entering care homes tend to be individuals with significant care needs. This is reflected in declining length of stay.

Due to these shifts in the composition of today’s long-living seniors, there are now recommendations nationally and in many provinces to increase direct nursing care time to 4.1 or more hours per day per residents. This represents an increase of slightly more than one hour per resident per day. In Alberta, this would mean a 36% increase in from the 3.02 total hours of funded nursing time that has been in effect since 2011.

Alberta is leading the way

Alberta is a national leader in beginning to increase funded care hours. The first bump — beginning in the 2023-24 year — is an increase in HCA time in long-term care settings to 2.38 hours of daily care (on average) per resident, up from 2.13 hours. The additional 15 minutes of daily care time is a welcome step in the right direction. There is still a considerable investment required as Alberta and other provinces work toward the 4.1 hour target.

HCA care time in Alberta has also been increased for DSL4 and DSL4D residents (0.19 hours of increased time per day, or about 11 minutes) and for DSL3 (three minutes added daily).

Related content

Learn more about the funding model in Alberta.