AHS cuts rides for Strathmore seniors
Joan Robertson works and lives in Calgary. Her father is 95-years-old and she cares for him very much, but his life stage has reached the limits of what she can personally provide. She has arranged for his care by getting him into the good community of Strathmore, arranging for her father’s accommodation in a reputable seniors’ care establishment, Meadowlark Senior Care. Joan visits her father frequently and discusses his physical, emotional and social needs with his caregiver. In order to keep her father happy and healthy she signed her father up to attend a day program run by Alberta Health Services. After working out all the kinks of caring for someone who cannot care for themselves, Robertson thought she had it under control.
“He really enjoys the outing. He goes about two or three times a week. He enjoys being in the company of other men,” said Robertson.
It was all under control, until she received a letter from the day program provider, Alberta Health Services, informing her that they can no longer provide transportation for her father to and from the sessions. There had been a van designated for the day program; however, after Sept. 2 the van could no longer be used because it needed repair.
Robertson questioned the logic in this decision for the program. If seniors cannot get to the program, eventually day programs might close, because no one is coming out to the day programs. It is a catch 22 situation, which only leads to seniors with cabin fever, depression and declining health because they can’t get out of their home.
Robertson inquired and found the information was correct; however, program organizers said they were thinking the van could be used for occasional day program outings but not on a regular basis.
“Well, you would think if the van is not safe enough for daily use, it wouldn’t be safe enough for group outings,” said Robertson. “I would be concerned for the safety of the people in the van.”
“There is very little available for seniors transportation to and from social events. There are no functional alternatives either,” said Robertson.
She said she tried the Strathmore Handi-Bus. She was informed her father could be put on the list but that calls for social purposes were considered, after medically-needed rides.
Robertson was concerned about the irregularity of the booking and she had stories of seniors waiting for hours to be picked up.
“There is an increasing senior population and increased need for transportation for the seniors,” said Robertson.
From one senior’s voice to many voices province-wide the message hasn’t changed.
A 2010 transportation needs assessment for seniors, done by Alberta Motor Association for Traffic Safety, includes this statement: Mobility is essential for meeting one’s basic needs and is an important contributor to higher order needs of quality of life and well-being.
The study included all the transportation providers across the province of Alberta, and their conclusions found the challenges were lack of funding, need for vans or accessible vans, need for more staff- paid or volunteers. These conclusions were made four years ago, and now there are even more seniors requiring care.
Robertson said she will write a letter regarding her concerns to her MLA and other policy makers. She is hoping other seniors affected by transportation problems will also write letters. Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne Legislature Office, 208 Legislature Building, 10800 97 Avenue, Edmonton, AB Canada T5K 2B6.