Friends of Medicare has learned that Revera Inc., one of the 13 contracted agencies will be giving up ½ of their newly awarded Home Care contract, as they are not able to provide the staffing necessary to service Home Care recepients in the Southwest area of Edmonton.
"This change will once impact approximately 300 Home Care recipients who have already had to go through a very ill-thought out transition plan" states Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare.
When the much awaited Home Care Proposal Review was quietly released on July 31st, 2013 it was clear that all providers were aware of their contractual obligations when it came to quality of care, such as appropriate level and qualification of staffing.
"Despite assurances from AHS about the success of these changes to Home Care, we continue to hear stories regarding not only Revera but also other agencies around lack of staffing, high rates of staff- turnover and lack of qualified staff," indicates Azocar. "Not enough staff translates directly into missed visits and no services being provided to Albertans."
AHS has stated that this 'geographical service delivery' of Home Care, would cut down on the cost of staff travel - this is currently being done by no longer paying front line staff to travel from client to client's home. Furthermore agencies which were awarded home care contracts advised their workers that due to new contract that 10 minutes of the time workers spend directly on patient services was to be considered 'travel time'.
"Simply stated this meant that workers leave earlier than their allotted direct patient care time or stay and work for free," said Azocar. "Either way these cuts will be on the backs of patients, front line staff and/or both."
FOM continues to hear stories from workers that indicate that some of the agencies have too many clients and others don't have enough to ensure enough work hours for workers.
" Given this reality it becomes evident quite quickly that this geographical service delivery model is not turning out to be the most efficient way in which to ensure that clients' Home Care needs are being met." stated Azocar.
"Home care should be a comprehensive and fully integrated service that is universally available on the basis of assessed needs. All agencies providing Home Care should be regulated and, where publicly funded services are provided under contract, those contracts shall be fully transparent and open to the public" states Azocar. Friends of Medicare is calling on AHS and the Minister of Health to recognize that these types of changes to home care services only postpone an inevitable expense and serve to download the cost onto individuals who are at a vulnerable stage in their lives.
"In the end the quality of our home care program will suffer. We need to strengthen our community and home care program so that those who need assistance to safely remain at home can do so." concludes Azocar.
Home Care contracts in the North, Central and South Zones will undergo similar process in 2014/15.
Sandra Azocar, Executive Director
Friends of Medicare