REGINA — Changes to the way long-term care beds are doled out in the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region are being met with mixed feelings.
Tuesday the RQHR announced that, as of July 1, Regina residents seeking long-term care might be placed up to 150 kilometres from home if a bed became available in a rural care facility, under the first available bed placement protocol.
People won’t be allowed to stay in hospital to await a local long-term care bed.
Holly Schick, executive director of Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism, agrees no one should stay in hospital if they don’t have to, where “they don’t have the activity, they don’t have the same kind of care that’s appropriate for them.”
Moving someone outside of their community is not ideal, she said, but if they have needs that can’t be met at home, a rural bed could be the best short-term option for them.
“As long as the objective is to as quickly as possible get them back to their home community, then it can be the best choice in some circumstances,” said Schick.
Under the new protocol, someone seeking long-term care will retain their spot on the wait-list to eventually move into one of their three preferred care facilities in the city.
They could otherwise return home and utilize home care services, or move into a private personal care home.
Corinne Pauliuk sees the latter as a poor solution.
“Not all care homes are equipped to accommodate those of a higher level of care,” said Pauliuk, president of Regina and District Personal Care Home Association.
Her own care home, Sunrise Country Haven near McLean, is one.
“Once individuals here meet the criteria for a long-term care facility, I can’t meet their needs safely, so I wouldn’t qualify as a care home to look after those individuals, period, and I’m not sure how they could function with home care because usually it’s 24-hour care that is required,” she said.
Pauliuk knows of at least 25 care homes that would be unable to accommodate a resident with serious care needs.
NDP health critic Danielle Chartier said home care and private care are not viable alternatives.
“Your only other option is to use this government’s already-stretched-thin home care and supplement with private care and many people can’t afford private care,” said Chartier.
“We have the concern in home care that they’re pretty much maxed out in regards to workload,” added Scott McDonald, president of CUPE 3967, which represents care aides.
Chartier thinks of her own parents, who are 82.
“I couldn’t imagine having them moved 150 km from home, both from their perspective getting to see their family less, but also from my ability as a daughter” to make a long drive to see them often, said Chartier.
“I can’t see family members being able to do that when they’re already working full time ... They’d be lucky if it was once a week,” she said.
Chartier said government should enhance home care, create more long-term care spaces in the city and implement proper staffing.
For the past 12 years, rural clients have received the first available long-term care bed 150 km from their home within the RQHR.
Five other health regions in the province have a first available bed policy region-wide. Five others, including Saskatoon, are some distance within the region, from a 45-minute drive to 150 km away.