ALBERTA

Alberta Home Care Review Ordered

10/10/2013 02:54 EDT | Updated 12/10/2013 05:12 EST
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CALGARY - Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne has ordered a review of the government's troubled home care system.

The Health Quality Council of Alberta is to look at whether standards are being followed and whether the system is being properly managed.

Earlier this week Revera — one of the private companies contracted to provide home care in Alberta — was unable to meet its contract obligations, leaving hundreds of people without services.

Dr. Chris Eagle, CEO of Alberta Health Services, said Thursday that it is "simply unacceptable" if patients aren't getting the care they need and apologized to anyone who has not received home care visits.

“On behalf of Alberta Health Services, I offer my apologies to any client whose care has been negatively impacted," he said.

"That should not have happened, and we are doing all we can to ensure it does not happen again.”

The Alberta NDP is calling on the government to improve the way it delivers home care services.

In June, the province changed how home care is delivered in Edmonton and Calgary, awarding contracts to 13 large private companies with an eye to saving money.

The change shut out dozens of other groups, including non-profits, that had been providing the service.

After people complained, the government agency renewed some of the former contracts.

Eggen said the decision by Revera this week shows that problems with service delivery persist.

"The Progressive Conservative's failed home care experiment has sent all home care into disarray," NDP health critic Dave Eggen said Thursday.

"This government must ensure the review is comprehensive, begins, immediately and is completed as soon as possible."

Horne said he is glad that Eagle has apologized.

He said Albertans should not have to face such disruptions in service.

"I need to be able to depend on Alberta Health Services when they make arrangements to provide services, including arrangements with contracted agencies," Horne said.

"I need Alberta Health Services to make sure that they enter contracts that can be relied upon by Albertans."

The group Friends of Medicare said the government should have reviewed the home care system before it made changes in June, not after the fact.

Executive director Sandra Azocar said home care services should not be delivered by private-for-profit companies.

"The government promised in the last election that seniors would be allowed to age where they reside with dignity and respect," she said.

"They should follow through with that promise by removing corporate profits as the factor determining direction of our home care system."

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