Rimbey FCSS fears home care contract loss

st like many other FCSS organizations across the province Rimbey FCSS is struggling with the idea they could lose their home care contract

Just like many other FCSS organizations across the province Rimbey FCSS is struggling with the idea they could lose their home care contract to a for-profit organization.

During a presentation made to Ponoka County at their Feb. 11 meeting, FCSS director Peggy Makofka also mentioned Ponoka FCSS and their situation. “We’re very similar, we’re in a similar situation.”

Across Alberta, especially in the cities, FCSS organizations have lost their home care contracts to for-profit and multi-national companies. “We have a concern, maybe even a fear that that could happen in the small rural areas,” said Makofka.

She believes, when the contracts are not re-awarded to FCSS, service levels drop, especially in rural areas. “We saw lots of these bigger outfits being quite shocked about trying to provide care in the rural areas. I don’t think it’s all they thought it was going to be.”

“Home care can happen any time of the day. It’s scheduled care but you don’t get it all between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.,” said Makofka. Recently she spoke to a service provider out of Edmonton who now owns one of the contracts. The woman was surprised how far Drayton Valley was from the city and how uneconomical driving out there to provide rural care could be.

Along with the multi-nationals, Makofka says Rimbey FCSS also feels a threat from Bethany Group, which is why she’s thrilled with the promise made by the Rimoka board that Bethany won’t be seeking the contract. “That promise was obliviously made with previous members of the board, too, but we’ll revisit that promise,” said Reeve Paul McLauchlin.

Rimbey FCSS started their program in 1982. “In the beginning, we started with home support, which is housekeeping and helping people stay in their own home with meal prep and laundry. We did personal care, which is through the contract with Alberta Health Services,” said Makofka.

“The goal of our agency is to help people stay at home longer,” she added.

Because of the contract, Rimbey FCSS runs with a small profit each year, allowing more programs and staff to remain on board, as well give funds back to the community. Makofka says, if they lose the contract, they’ll also lose those funds and other community organizations will have to look elsewhere for their own funding.

Although Makofka thinks Rimbey FCSS, as it is now, can keep pace with larger outfits, the organization is going through an accreditation process to maintain a competitive edge and prove it’s the best holder of the contract. “It’s not mandatory requirement until December of 2016.”

The process runs at about $10,000. “But we want to keep pace, we want to have a good quality of care and keep the standard up,” said Makofka.

She’s been in touch with two Alberta Health Care workers, Ernie Clarke, who handles the contracts, and David O’Brian, a senior vice-president for mental health and health services.

“We wanted to share with them kind of what I’m telling you today; we think we’re doing OK. He actually reassured me that we do very well and he said he knows of the Rimbey and Ponoka programs,” said Makofka.

“He does feel we’re providing good service and in fact, he doesn’t have the final say, but he’s hopeful we’ll just be offered an extension on the contract,” she added.