Licensing restrictions and equipment

All care facilities in Alberta are constructed and licensed according to the standards associated with specific levels of resident care. Facilities offering the highest level of care (such as long-term care - LTC ) must meet many hospital-level standards with respect to building design/features and equipment — such as wheelchair-accessibility throughout, mechanical lifts for residents, sprinkler systems, and infection prevention/control standards.

Care homes that are rated for lower levels of care — such as designated supportive living (DSL) — may not have the physical environment or equipment to safely provide care to a resident who progresses from DSL to LTC care needs (for example, is no longer physically able to get out of a bed). If the resident’s needs have outgrown the facility’s amenities or equipment, the resident may need to be relocated to a facility with the appropriate equipment.

Central intake and placement

Alberta’s central intake and assessment system for all publicly funded continuing care residents means that individual facilities don’t maintain their own roster and waitlist for residents. Instead, all publicly-funded residents are managed on a central provincial list.

If a higher level of care space becomes available anywhere within publicly funded facilities, that space is usually assigned to the next person on the central list. In other words, a resident in one care home whose needs have increased is usually ‘turned over’ to central intake to be reassigned to a different level of space/bed. There is no guarantee there will be a space available at the resident’s current care home, nor whether a space in the current care home will be allocated to the current resident or to a new, incoming resident from central intake. 

Keeping couples together

An additional challenge is accommodating couples or partners who have differing levels of care needs. Because care homes are funded according to groupings of similar-needs residents, a care home (or wing within a care home) can generally only accommodate residents with similar levels of care needs. A couple with significantly different care needs (such as one in LTC and the partner able to live almost independently) generally can’t be accommodated within the same funded space — mostly because keeping the couple together might prevent another Alberta resident from accessing that space in a facility that offers LTC level of care.

CHAA advocacy efforts

CHAA’s operators have been collaborating with government, funders, and regulators to plan for changes that will allow more Albertans to age in place without having to relocate. Our advocacy focuses on:

  • Allowing operators to have more oversight of assessment and care management functions, as well as greater involvement in continuing care placements and transfers.

  • Upgrading or replacing Alberta’s large inventory of aging buildings so a larger proportion are able to grow and expand to meet the increasing care needs of residents as they age.

  • Encouraging and funding operators to invest in equipment that may only benefit a single resident initially (e.g., mechanical lift) but will eventually enable increasing numbers of residents to remain in the facility.

  • Licensing more facilities to have multiple and flexible care levels available within a single site – allowing couples and a greater range of resident populations to live within a single facility.

  • Increasing the number and type of spaces across the continuing care system so there is sufficient surplus capacity to make resident-focused decisions — such as keeping Albertans in a familiar community and care home rather than relocating residents when care needs increase.

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