Blog Post

Press Release Sept. 11, 2017

Today we published a press release as follows:

Press Release
Sept. 11, 2017

New Study Shows No Action taken on Government Report
Seniors and Elders waiting two years or more for care beds

Ft. Vermilion, AB – It’s been three years since the Mackenzie Regional Housing Needs Assessment proved it is time to start building the up to 200 beds care beds needed by 2031. Since 2014, only four additional care beds have opened. All Designated Supportive Living (DSL) facilities in the area are 100 per cent full and there is a two-year wait list.

The Fort Vermilion and Area Seniors and Elders Lodge board is asking for meetings with government and provincial health officials to discuss building an assisted living facility for elders and seniors in the region and the four surrounding First Nation Nations by 2020.

The bed shortage affects all seniors and aboriginal elders, many of whom are choosing to remain at home without the help they need, rather than move and be isolated from their families.

“A Designated Supportive Living facility is needed in Fort Vermilion right now and has been needed for several years,” said Chief Rupert Meneen, Tallcree Tribal Government and Grand Chief of Treaty 8. “The facility must be culturally inclusive, recognizing and serving our First Nation people that looks after our Elders and Seniors spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. I’ve listened to our Elders across the Region regarding the need for our people and now call on the other levels of government to support it.”

Part of the problem is the way statistics about northern communities are collected. The AHS data collection method underestimates the number of people in the region who need care.

“There is a waiting list of 16 people now,” said Jeff Anderson, Fort Vermilion & Area Senior’s and Elders Lodge Board chairman. “But we know from front line staff that the need for care beds is much, much higher. The system Alberta Health Services uses to determine the need in big centres like Calgary and Edmonton just doesn’t work here.”

The rural Mackenzie region lacks basic services such as taxis, transit and delivery services for seniors that makes aging at home more difficult. In many parts of the region lack of cell phone coverage makes even a 911 call impossible.

Bill Boese has lived in Ft. Vermilion 54 years. His parents moved to Three Hills after retiring so they could have medical care nearby and eventually had to move into assisted living in Red Deer, 800 kilometres away from Fort Vermilion. Since then assisted living facilities have opened in High Level and LaCrete, but little has changed, he said.

“It’s extremely full and hard to get into to,” Boese said of the two local assisted living facilities. “A number of my friend’s aging parents are still moving away to live in care facilities. They are struggling right now in Edmonton, for example, away from family. They are struggling alone.”

For more information and/or media interviews call:
Jeff Anderson
Chairman, Fort Vermilion and Area Seniors’ and Elders’ Lodge Board
(780) 841-7949

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