Legislative change to give seniors better voice in facility operation

Rimoka to see little change, have been holding council meeting for years

New provincial legislation has been designed to give residents and families of those in supportive care a bigger voice.

The Resident and Family Councils Act officially took effect April 1 and institutes new rules for long-term care facilities, nursing homes and seniors lodges in Alberta. Included in the rules are ensuring any resident or family member or group of residents and family members can establish a council for a facility and that the members can determine the structure and processes the council will follow. It also states the council can set the format and frequency of meetings plus how facility representatives can be involved.

While the Rimoka Housing Foundation is affected by this change, much of what is being legislated is already in effect.

“We have had resident councils in place in both Rimbey and Ponoka for many years. The biggest change for us, under the act, will be to simply add the term ‘family’ to the resident/family council, and formalize the invitation process accordingly,” explained Rimoka CAO Peter Hall.

“As part of our Supportive Living Standards, we are to, and have, periodically solicited the opinions of the residents and responded to their comments via the resident council. This is why it was formed many years ago.”

Hall further explained the council meets twice annually, with a resident chairperson, treasurer and secretary.

“We find it is an effective way to garner feedback from residents on how our operation is running,” he added.

“Families have always been welcome to attend, however attendance has been minimal. With local management and a board consisting of local town and county councillors plus a member from the Royal Canadian Legion, our residents have and will continue to have a strong voice with local decision makers.”

According to a release from the province, the legislation applies to all public, private and non-profit facilities in Alberta.

“For thousands of Albertans living in long-term care and supportive living, resident councils already make life better in dozens of tangible ways. We’re building on successes throughout the province so that operators, residents and families have opportunities to work together,” stated Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman in the release.

The government is also providing a toolkit for residents and families wishing to set up a council along with an information guide has been developed for facility operators to clarify their responsibilities.

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