Members of the Wheatland FCSS (WFCSS) is hopeful, through working closely with Alberta Health Services, it will be able to maintain its home care services for seniors in the area.
“The top priority is client care and continuity of service for the clients,” said chair of WFCSS Darcy Burke.
Burke explains that in April of 2009, WFCSS signed a contract with Alberta Health Services for the delivery of home care. WFCSS went through its first year of operation and ended with a deficit. Alberta Health Services helped the organization cover the shortfall. Last spring they began to negotiate their next contract.
“Our side has seen some significant increase in cost and so we started negotiations to increase the funding,” said Burke.
He said Alberta Health Services did increase the funding substantially, but it was not enough to make it work.
“At the end of the day we're short about $70,000,” said Burke.
“At that point the board could not continue any longer and we made our termination notice to be effective October 13.
Ron Corbiel vice chair of WFCSS said since then, they have been working with Alberta Health Services to come up with a solution, and said they have been very responsive.
“Alberta Health Services has been very cooperative in trying to make the contract work. I hand delivered our termination notice on July 15, and they had already organized our first meeting by July 25,” said Corbiel.
Burke explains that moving forward, either Alberta Health Services will take on the contract in house, or a third party will deliver the care. Either way WFCSS will be surrendering the program.
“Now we are going to concentrate and focus our efforts to make sure clients and our staff are looked after and continuity of the service,” said Burke.
Alberta Health Services echoed the sentiment.
“We are very motivated to make sure the quality of care continues and we continue to assess health care needs of our clients and the residents of your community,” said Lori Anderson of Alberta Health Services.
At the end of the day, however Burke says there is some uncertainty moving forward
“I hope not (that things change) but at the end of the day there are no guarantees of that. But if the positive attitude starts at the top, and comes from FCSS and Alberta Health Services, then we can maybe ensure that the managers take the same attitude.”
The WFCSS home care program has about 110 clients and serves the areas of Hussar, Rockyford, Standard, Strathmore and Wheatland County. It employs about 25 personal care attendants and office staff.
“I appreciate the fact that everyone here has tried to get out in front of the situation,” said Brooks Strathmore MLA Doerksen.
“The provincial government and Alberta Health Services is committed to ensuring that we get this thing right. We know we are in a time of transition, there is change in a whole range of areas.”
Burke said this sort of challenge is not new, especially in rural Alberta.
“I think we need to be very cautious when we develop cost formulas between municipalities and rural agencies. It costs more money in rural Alberta. It doesn’t matter if it is education, health or anything else. I think we have to ensure that we enough funding in place to support rural Alberta,” said Burke. “