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    Categories: Health & Wellness

New beds a relief for families

Laurie Ryalls was relieved to find a long-term care bed for her mother

After two weeks in a transition bed at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton, she was anxious to have her mother living closer to home.

“It was a tiny little space that she was in,” said Laurie of the shared space her mother resided in while awaiting a continuing care placement from Alberta Health Services.

Rita Ryalls, and husband Ken, had been living with Laurie in her St. Albert residence since suffering an unexpected stroke in 2014. After being hospitalized for two seizures in early December, she was assessed as requiring long-term care.

Laurie applied to the wait list for the two closest facilities, Youville and Citadel Mews, before finding out that Foyer Lacombe was about to open its doors and was accepting residents.

She arranged a tour of the facility and two days later Rita became Foyer Lacombe’s first resident. “They opened their doors the day she arrived,” said Laurie.

Since opening its doors on Jan. 20, Foyer Lacombe has seen all of its long-term care beds filled and welcomed its first hospice care resident last week.

The mixed-unit facility houses 12 long-term-care beds and 10 hospice beds and is located in the newer wing of the facility owned by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, which used to operate a private supportive living facility for missionaries and priests until January 2015, when it was closed due to low occupancy.

The facility increases the community’s hospice capacity tenfold, with only one other bed at the neighbouring Youville Home, and allows for residents like Rita Ryalls to move back to the community they were living in.

Most residents, as well as those on the hospice wait list, are from St. Albert and surrounding communities, said clinical leader Tina Hostin.

Access to continuing care has slowly been improving over the past five years in Alberta. Average wait time for placements in acute and sub-acute care hospital beds have shortened throughout the province to 42 in 2014-15 from 54 days in 2010-11 and 60 per cent of clients are placed within 30 days in 2014-15, compared to 69 per cent in 2013-14.

In the Edmonton zone, Carol Anderson, executive director for continuing care in the AHS says the numbers are even better, with an average wait of about 27 days.

“We’ve been working on adding additional supportive living capacity. We’ve really been working on making sure that we’ve got the right type of capacity. That has enabled us to make the best use of our long-term care spaces for the most complex folks,” said Anderson. “It’s had a very positive impact on our long-term care list, so the people who really need long-term care are able to get it in a timely way.”

A new AHS-run supportive living complex is set to open in St. Albert in mid-March. The St. Albert Retirement Residence will house 72 supportive living spaces.

Michelle Ferguson: