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Health aide speaks out about changes to home care delivery

EDMONTON – Cristina Fedor has experienced home care service both from working on the front lines as an aide, and seeing it delivered to her paraplegic mother. But ever since Alberta Health Services reduced the number of home care providers, Fedor says the service has been lacking.

Since the beginning of August, she says health aides from We Care Home Health Services have missed approximately eight visits with her mother, who depends on them for help with things like getting out of bed, eating lunch, showering, and using the washroom.

This past weekend, three of her eight appointments were missed, leaving her in a serious bind.

“I needed help to go to the washroom,” Isabel Silverio explains. Since her daughter wasn’t home to help her, she says she had to wait two hours before she could go.

“To be in my mom’s situation and not be able to go to washroom on your own, it’s unimaginable that your worker who is supposed to come is just not coming,” her daughter says.

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She adds that of her mom’s original five caregivers, only one remains. Fedor worries that staff leaving, is having an impact on home care services.

Global News spoke with the Director of Clinical Practice at We Care, Kim Fraser. She assures us it’s “business as usual,” and adds there are no staff shortages or significant number of missed visits.

AHS also suggests the number of missed visits – five in the last two weeks – is not unusual, and not a symptom of AHS recently moving from 45 to 17 home care providers.

AHS has previously stated that while those changes will save $18 million, patient care won’t be affected.

NDP Health Critic, David Eggen, isn’t buying that.

“You can’t expect that you can pay the workers adequately or that patients can get the coverage and care they were getting before,” he argues. “We need to fix this now before we lose those experienced homecare workers that actually were keeping this whole thing glued together up until now.”

He says many visits are being missed across the city, and the situation has been deteriorating over the past few weeks.

“I’m getting complaints from patients, from families, workers, and now even some of the big contractors are saying that the way this PC government has set up home care is not sustainable and is not working.”

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Sixty-nine year-old Silverio can’t believe a situation like this would ever happen in a rich province like Alberta, and worries about other who depend on home care.

“I live with my daughter,” she says. “What about other seniors who live alone? They have no one else.”

Her daughter left her job as a health aide partly because she felt her mother wasn’t receiving consistent care.

“But I am going to need to return to work at some point to make a living,” Fedor says, “and I’m very concerned about what’s going to happen with my mom if I’m not home.”

With files from Laurel Clark, Global News