Alberta Health Services makes cuts to home care

Alberta Health Services has cut the time caregivers can spend with home care clients in Edmonton in order to deal with a budget deficit.

Cathy Taylor has muscular dystrophy and lives in her own home. Taylor has learned that the hour and a half of care she receives each morning will be cut by 15 minutes.

"That 15 minutes makes a difference to whether or not all those things get done," Taylor said at a news conference held by the Alberta NDP on Monday.

"If I have a caregiver that hasn't been doing my routine for two weeks and doesn't know it cold, it's impossible to do it in an hour and a half."

While there are on-site caregivers that help her during the rest of the day, Taylor said they were too busy to help her with her morning routine, which includes getting her out of bed, taking her to the washroom, preparing breakfast and giving her medication which she needs to take with her meals.

So she arranged for to receive that care from an outside agency, which is now affected by the cuts.

Marianne Stewart, AHS vice-president of community and mental health in Edmonton, said the service reductions affect 12 agencies that are contracted by the health board to provide home care.

Stewart says AHS is dealing with a deficit while the number of clients is growing.

"We are very invested in looking at increasing our capacity in home care," she said.

"This particular moment in time is aligning what is a deficit to our budget, and we expect to do that and still serve our 5,000 that we have added over the last two years."

The time cuts are determined on a case by case basis.

"Because these are home care clients and they need this service, you have to look at a way of finding the money without cutting service," Stewart said.

"So this looked — fact it should be — the right thing to do if we are allotting and paying for 30 minutes when in fact it takes ten."

Stewart said she is not able to say how much the deficit is.

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