WHEREAS the average age of residents in rural communities is increasing with each generation; and
WHEREAS municipalities provide home support to their elderly and disabled population on an inconsistent basis throughout the province; and
WHEREAS the provincial government has expressed the importance of providing citizens with the option and opportunity to age within their homes and communities;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties advocate to the Province for the funding of targeted non-medical home support for seniors and persons with disabilities to support the provincial “Aging in the Right Place” strategy.
According to the Minister responsible for Health and Wellness, Ron Liepert, “Albertans want to maintain their independence for as long as possible”. As such, the provincial strategy “Aging in the Right Place” calls for enhancing home care and increasing respite and support programs for families assuming care of loved ones. No specifics for this plan have been released.
Currently, the province only provides home care services through Alberta Health Services. The provision of this service is based on medical need and heavily dependant on funding levels and regional priorities. The future of this program is unknown with the dissolution of the Health Authorities.
Municipalities and the province, as well as taxpayers, contribute large amounts of money to fund institutional care to seniors and people with disabilities. Significant savings can be met providing home support to delay the need for continuing care and reducing the wait times for accommodations when it does become necessary.
Resolution 4-07F: THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC) lobby the Provincial Government to amend the assistance program for Alberta’s Seniors to provide increased funding to offset the rapidly increasing costs of property taxes and rent on Seniors’ property and rental accommodations in order to keep as many seniors as possible in their own homes and to lessen the burden on Seniors’ Housing facilities, now and in the future.
Resolution 15-08S: THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the AAMDC lobby the Provincial Government to create and hire personnel to act in a Seniors Advocacy role, in collaboration and potential partnership with local Family & Community Support Services programs, to assist our seniors in their daily lives.
Health and Wellness:
Alberta Health and Wellness announced the Continuing Care Strategy: Aging in the Right Place to enhance the range of services and enable seniors and persons with disabilities to receive care in their homes and communities. This includes enhancing home care and supportive living, providing assistance for individuals to transition from facility care back to home or community living, and introducing emergency support programs for emergency departments to lower wait times in emergency departments.
Alberta Health and Wellness will be providing $37.5 million to Alberta Health Services in the 2010/11 budget year for implementation of the Continuing Care Strategy.
Seniors and Community Supports:
Alberta Seniors and Community Supports provides direct income support to low income seniors through the Alberta Seniors Benefit (ASB) program. The qualifying income thresholds and maximum monthly benefit are the highest in the country. Seniors eligible for ASB may apply to the Special Needs Assistance for Seniors program, which provides up to $5,000 per benefit year for allowable one time or extraordinary expenses. Allowable expenses include some home repairs and up to $100 per month for housekeeping and yard maintenance expenses.
Seniors and Community Supports also provides assistance on a cost-shared basis for the cost of medical equipment and supplies to individuals with a long-term disability, chronic illness or terminal illness through the Alberta Aids to Daily Living (AADL) program.
The department maintains a Directory of Seniors Centres in Alberta. The directory was developed to help seniors and their families access information about programs and services that reduce isolation and support seniors to stay active and involved in their communities. Many seniors centres offer health supports and outreach for seniors in their community. The Directory of Seniors Centres in Alberta is available on the ministry website at www.seniors.alberta.ca.
In June 2010, the Government of Alberta provided $500,000 over a two-year period to support a new ‘neighbours helping neighbours’ initiative in two pilot communities–Jasper and Edmonton. The funds are available to programs that partner volunteers with senior or those with disabilities to help them with everyday tasks and keep them connected to their communities. Community groups coordinate supports for seniors, which may include mowing lawns, providing rides to appointments or even social visits. Upon evaluation of the Edmonton and Jasper programs, this initiative will be introduced in at least six other communities around Alberta within the next two to three years. The creation of ‘neighbours helping neighbours’ programs around Alberta is one of the many initiatives identified in the province’s Continuing Care Strategy, Aging in the Right Place. While this progress is appreciated, the AAMDC will continue to monitor the intiative to ensure a broad implementation accessible by rural Albertans.
In December 2010, the Alberta Supports website was launched. It provides a single source of reliable, consistent information for citizens, staff and service providers on more than 30 programs and more than 100 services including those related to seniors. Further the Alberta Seniors’ Benefit makes provision for up to $1,200 per year in funding to low-income seniors for support of housekeeping, yard maintenance and snow removal.
The AAMDC accepts that the intent of this resolution has been achieved.