NDP bill would allow advisory councils to form at long-term care facilities

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On Tuesday the province announced legislation that would allow residents of long-term facilities and their families the ability to create advocacy councils.

Marie Renaud, MLA for St. Albert, says the legislation will provide another avenue for people in long-term care facilities to have input on their care.

“It forces an operator to really look at getting input from the people that are most impacted by the activities and changes that are going on,” she says. “Not to be negative but I think sometimes in the daily operation of a facility, perhaps their voices aren’t front and centre.”

The councils would advocate and work with staff members of facilities in regard to food, activities, services and other quality of life concerns.

Renaud says many organizations across the province already have advisory councils established.

Truman Severson, president of Covenant Care that oversees Foyer Lacombe in St. Albert, says the facility has a self-governing board consisting of residents and their family members.

He says the legislation would be beneficial to facilities that currently don’t have advisory councils set up.

“It’s great that they’ve put this into legislation,” he says. “I think other places will benefit from it.”

There are a few challenges to having an advisory council, according to Truman. He says in their experience it has been difficult to establish a consistent council.

“A lot of our residents don’t live with us for a long time,” he says. “By the time a person gets moved in and settled in, they may only have a period of time of a few months that they’re involved and then the family member passes away.”

Foyer Lacombe in St. Albert has 12 long-term care beds and 10 hospice beds.

He says staffing levels are also an issue that comes up in the council, with residents and family members wanting more attention than is possible from staff. He adds that the issue is felt across long-term care facilities across Alberta.

“Unfortunately those are areas where it’s more difficult to have influence on. Care centres are funded to provide a certain number of hours of care, which we certainly do. But they aren’t funded to provide additional hours.”

When it comes to other quality of life issues, food and activities are also discussed on council at Foyer Lacombe. When the menu changes the council gives feedback based on previous meals. They also work with staff to determine what activities will be held.

The Resident and Family Councils Act, which would take effect April 1 if approved, would extend across public, private and non-profit living facilities.

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Dayla Lahring

Dayla Lahring joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2017. She writes about business, health, general news and features. She also contributes photographs.