Stettler braces for health-care changes

Provincial official promises ‘better overall employment’

Two Stettler facilities are part of the provincial changes in health care planned for 2013, Alberta Health Services announced Friday.

A new Stettler seniors’ home, Points West Living, is set to open in July, said Kerry Bales, the senior vice-president for the AHS central zone.

That 104-bed facility will house 88 assisted-living units.

In the current picture, Alberta Health Services operates 89 long-term-care units at the Stettler Health Care Centre.

Bales said that when the 88 new units open, there would be a surplus of vacant beds, so 39 spaces at the health-care centre would be decommissioned.

The anticipated complement for Stettler would be 88 continuing-care units at Points West and 50 long-term spaces at the health-care centre.

“For the Stettler community, that is a net gain of 49 continuing-care spaces,” Bales said.

He said there would be transition from a staff perspective, and that Alberta Health has been working with the unions and local staff to ease the changes.

“Points West will have to hire — there will be some changes in staffing — but overall, it will involve a net gain,” Bales said from his Red Deer office.

“It will be a better overall employment situation for Stettler.”

Of the 88 supportive-living units, two are specialized suites for bariatric residents, 38 units will supply enhanced levels of care for dementia patients, and the remaining 48 units are classified as designated supportive living spaces.

Designated supportive living is a community-based living option that provides 24-hour care onsite professional and personal-care support services to individuals with high-care needs, AHS reported in its latest announcement.

Onsite professional health services are provided by licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and health-care aides.

They’re supported by other health-care professionals, including registered nurses (RNs), case managers and other consultative services through Alberta Health Services’ home-care program.

The enhanced supportive-living spaces for people with moderate to severe dementia or cognitive impairment will receive the same services as in a supportive living setting, but benefit from “a structured, secure environment,” Bales said.

People in that category “have a high risk of wandering or unpredictable behaviours that do not allow them to be safely accommodated in a general setting.”

Bales said the registered nursing care can be accessed during the normal hours of the Alberta Health Services home-care program, or on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Points West Living is a 104-bed facility, which in addition to the 88 supportive-living units also offers independent living designed for couples or families.

“We are pretty excited about the project,” Bales said.

“It is a significant and helpful investment for the community.”

Bales said Alberta Health Services is planning a process to meet with the residents and their families to access their needs. Placements will be based “on the best place where patient needs will be met.”

People with significantly higher medical needs would be more suited to the long-term care facility, while those with lesser medical needs would be a match for the continuing-care facility, he said.

“Couples with varying health care requirements won’t have to be separated from each other now. They can live in the same facility when it offers more than one level of care, as well as the independent-living option.

“People quite enjoy the supportive-living model, because it is much like a home environment, as opposed to a hospital-based look.

“It’s a positive change. I think people will be happy with it.”

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