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End of divorce by nursing home policy, changes in home care a win for patients

EDMONTON, AB (June 18, 2013): Putting an end to the out-of-touch policy to separate seniors from their loved ones by up to 100 kilometres for long-term care spaces and the reversal of Alberta Health Services’ (AHS) decision on changes to palliative and home care services are big victories for patients and their loved ones subjected to the callous decision making of the PC government, the Wildrose Official Opposition said today. 

After touring the province and meeting with seniors in February, Wildrose Seniors Critic Kerry Towle consistently pressured Health Minister Fred Horne to put an end to AHS’ 100 km policy, which resulted in divorce by nursing home for many seniors. The policy was initially implemented in November 2009 as an “interim measure” in response to the H1N1 pandemic; four years later Horne called the policy a, “very necessary response to a temporary situation.” “This is a big win for seniors and their families today after having to endure the cruel 100 km policy that often tore seniors from their loved ones.  We’re pleased the government finally reversed their decision, disappointed that it took them four years to do so,” Towle said.  “Albertans deserve a government that will make the right decisions the first time, not only when it becomes a matter of political calculation and damage control.” Wildrose Health Critic Heather Forsyth, who raised the issue of changes in home care earlier this month, said the reversal on palliative and home care services is a good first step to ensure the quality of care for patients won’t be immediately impacted. “Ultimately, the decision to centralize home care providers means less choice and less quality of care for patients who have a very personal relationship with their caregivers,” Forsyth said. “This should be a message for those throughout the health care community that if we come together as Albertans we can push the government to reverse decisions that will harm patient care.”