NDP introduces legislation to give long-term care residents and their families more say at Alberta facilities

Sarah Hoffman
A file photo of Alberta Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

The NDP government introduced a new bill in the Alberta legislature on Tuesday that would enshrine the rights of residents of long-term care facilities, and their families, to create “self-governing councils.”

“Resident and family councils play a crucial role in many communities, but no consistent requirements exist for all Alberta long-term care and supportive living facilities,” Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said in a statement. “We’re working to make life better for Albertans by ensuring residents and their families have opportunities to help create caring, supportive environments.”

Bill 22, dubbed the Resident and Family Councils Act, would impact public, private and non-profit long-term care and supportive living facilities. It would also stipulate that operators of those facilities work with councils on various issues, including food, services and activities.

READ MORE: Survey finds not all Albertans receive same quality of care at supportive living facilities

Watch below: In July 2017, Heather Yourex-West filed this report after a survey from the Health Quality Council of Alberta found not all care facilities are providing the same quality of care.

Click to play video 'Not all Alberta care centres providing same quality of care: report' Not all Alberta care centres providing same quality of care: report
Not all Alberta care centres providing same quality of care: report – Jul 13, 2017

“We have heard loud and clear from Albertans with disabilities – ‘nothing about us without us,'” Community Services Minister Irfan Sabir said in a statement.

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“As government, we completely agree that Albertans should have a voice in these matters and are committed to working alongside those with disabilities, their families, disability advocates and service providers.”

The government said Alberta Health will consult with long-term and supportive living facility operators, residents and their families in the coming weeks and months, in order to help develop a toolkit and information guide on self-governing councils.

A number of care facilities in Alberta already work with councils like the government is proposing. St. Marguerite Manor is a supportive-living facility for seniors in Calgary. The facility’s site administrator says it works with a self-governing council that benefits the lives of those living at the centre.

“Our resident and family council has helped residents here feel that this is truly their home,” Doreen Wilson said in a statement on Tuesday.

“As this council has been meeting monthly over the past two years, we’ve been working together to make this an even better community.”

Bill 22 passed first reading on Tuesday. If passed into law, the government said the Resident and Family Councils Act would come into effect on April 1.