Staffing ratios matter

Each publicly funded care home in Alberta receives provincial funding based on a standardized funding formula. The number of care staff scheduled to work on any given day (and therefore spend time with residents) is determined by this funding formula (also called funded care hours). These care hours translate into staffing shifts that are scheduled around the clock and peak during key service provision times, such as mornings when most residents in a care home need support to get ready for the day ahead.

CHAA care homes have a long history of always striving to staff our care homes at or above regulated staffing requirements. Operators must always strike a balance between the level of clinical expertise available during a shift (such as registered nurses) and the number of direct-care hands (LPNs, HCAs) at the point of care. Our goal is to have as many staff as possible providing direct care — which creates comfort and confidence among residents while also fostering excellence and camaraderie across the care team as they appreciate a manageable workload.

Our operators have been a strong advocate for increasing the amount of funded care time. Why? Because so many of today’s residents have cognitive challenges such as dementia, leaving many feeling confused, anxious or fearful. Offering a few extra moments of care and compassion can make a world of difference.

When Moments Matter, care staff time makes it happen.

Most provincial funding for care is earmarked for health and personal care related services, such as nursing care and assistance with walking, dressing, bathing, toileting and feeding. Residents with higher levels of frailty or multiple chronic conditions — or those who have limited mobility — are assessed as needing more hours of care per day.

Extra supports for dementia care

What about residents with dementia, who need more time for all aspects of daily living? Who may wake up agitated or confused? Who may benefit from additional time spent on calming activities, such as listening to music or having their hair brushed? Who may refuse to get dressed or go to a dining area? Or who may be too distracted to stay focused on eating a meal?

Residents with various forms of dementia often need dedicated companion-type care throughout most of their waking hours to provide redirection, calming, refocusing, or cueing supports. It’s essential that front-line care staff have enough extra ‘room’ in their resident accountabilities to spontaneously support an individual who needs extra supports at any given moment.

Being unrushed also means care staff can sit with a resident for a longer conversation, water plants in the courtyard garden, or play a favorite tune together on the care home piano.

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