For-profit care centres should concern seniors

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Dear Editor:

Early in June I attended a meeting organized by a group called “Join Together Alberta” whose focus is on health, education and other human services in Alberta.

During the evening several presentations were made about the state of these services in the province. Later in the evening discussions took place in smaller groups about these issues. In my group several stories were shared about support or assistance group members thought they needed. One story particularly struck me. A senior in the group wondered if she would be able to afford long-term care if she ever needed it and wondered what options were available to her on a fixed and limited income.

The Alberta government, I understand, does subsidize seniors who have a limited income so that actually going to a long-term care centre should usually not pose a significant problem. Certainly there are waiting lists and these likely vary throughout the province. What is of concern to me however, is the mix of non-profit and for-profit long-term care centres. Studies done in Ontario and British Columbia including a study by the Canadian Medical Association Journal in Ontario, noted that government run facilities offer more time in direct patient care than for profit facilities.

If I could say one thing to that senior, who had concerns about her future in long-term care, it is clear that I would refer to these studies. I do not know how direct patient care in long-term care in Alberta is different from that in Ontario or British Columbia but clearly there is concern with for-profit centres in other provinces.

The notion that there is profit to be made for shareholders and owners from government and seniors’ money, makes me wonder when direct services are cut to seniors to maintain or increase the profit margin.

George Jason

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