Edmonton woman worries AHS decision will threaten her independence

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Edmonton woman worries AHS decision will threaten her independence
WATCH ABOVE: An Edmonton woman who receives home care from Alberta Health Services said the supports she needs will be cut off next month and she's been given no explanation as to why. Tom Vernon explains. – Jan 25, 2017

UPDATE: On Jan. 27, 2017, Health Minister Sarah Hoffman issued a statement to Global News saying, after consulting with Alberta Health Services, they decided not to halt Brenda Lewis’ housekeeping service.

“After AHS and my office looked into this case, it was clear the best solution was for AHS to continue providing the home care service,” the statement said. “We know that being able to stay at home and remain independent leads to better health outcomes and overall well-being for Albertans. I am very pleased that we were able to call Ms. Lewis today with the good news.”

An Edmonton woman who lives with dystonia says Alberta Health Services plans to abruptly halt a housekeeping service she’s received for nearly a decade, and hasn’t given her a clear reason why.

“I have until Feb. 13, and then I will be finished,” Brenda Lewis told Global News from her north Edmonton home.

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Dystonia is a disorder which causes a person’s muscles to contract uncontrollably, impacting their range of motion. Lewis uses a wheelchair, but has been able to live independently with light housekeeping work provided by AHS.

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“It includes laundry, meal preparation, which is really just warming things up for me, and light housekeeping,” Lewis said.

She cannot perform these tasks herself, her washer and dryer are in the basement, and she’s unable to sweep and mop the floor.

“I can dress myself and all the rest of it, but I can’t do those other things.”

With the deadline approaching, Lewis has looked at other services, but has yet to find a solution. She is on AISH (Alberta Income for the Severely Handicapped), so she can’t afford to pay for a private service, and subsidized programs won’t kick in until she’s 55, six years from now.

AHS wouldn’t comment on her specific case, but Dr. James Silvius says the focus of the home care program is on medical services like personal care and medication assistance.

“Services that may be associated with helping people remain at home that aren’t strictly healthcare are really the responsibility of others to provide,” he said, adding AHS will work with its clients to find these services.

That was echoed by Health Minister Sarah Hoffman.

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“We want to see Albertans able to remain at home, independent and in their communities as long as possible,” Hoffman said in a statement provided to Global News. “The health ministry and AHS are working together to help find resources to meet her daily living support needs.”

The move isn’t saving AHS any money, but allowing the organization to spend its home care budget on its core health services.

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