The Dec. 3 Taber Times story on concerns being raised about the care level featured at designated assisted living facility Linden View has certainly sparked debate.
The Times has been inundated by Letters to the Editor condemning the story while emails supporting the article have also been received, but fears of reprisals have been voiced in one wanting to raise their voice.
As the lines are drawn in the sand of exactly how one views the level of care given at Linden View, there seems to be a disconnect between the two warring factions in that both have the same common goal. To give residents at Linden View the best care possible given the restrictions of the day one faces.
As the Times reported, of those 17 people who had a meeting, voicing their concerns to MLA Gary Bikman, not all were former employees, but current ones as well along with family members who have or had loved ones stay at Linden View. Given the sensitivity of the issue, perhaps there would have been even more if not for fear of the backlash one would endure.
Judging by this week’s Letters to the Editor, there are also many families quite content with how their loved ones are cared for at Linden View.
This is a topic that should not be swept under the rug given the interest it has garnered in caring for the elderly. Nearly 16,000 people viewed the Linden View story on the Taber Times’ Facebook page as of late Monday and there were 2,565 views, 2,292 of them unique (non-repeats from the same source) on the Taber Times Web site. This is obviously a topic that hits close to home for many, not only in the Taber/Vauxhall area, but southern Alberta as well.
However one views the exact level of care that can be featured at Linden View and its delivery system, there is no denying there are gaps in the system.
Even management and workers admitted so during a media/politician tour of the facilities earlier this year of the various political hoops workers and residents must jump through not only for care at the facility, but qualifying for the facility in the first place.
Hearing stories of how some couples have legally separated just to get a less cost-prohibitive entry into a Good Samaritans institution shows how something is askew.
While everyone is quick to point fingers or deflect blame, the same issue remains, exactly how care is administered to our elderly loved ones has to be examined along with financial ramifications.
Taking a head-in-the-sand approach just because perhaps your loved one has fared just fine compared to others, or just accepting the present political protocol of red tape should not be handled with a shoulder shrug.
Was the proper protocol followed if formal complaints were filed by both former and current employees at Linden View? While Linden View has received 100 per cent compliance on legislative requirements for continuing-care standards and accreditation licensing for housing, the validity of that depends on how Alberta Health Services tests for that. The 100 per cent compliance certainly carries more weight if the Alberta Health Services testing is through impromptu visits rather than if a facility already has a heads up that the big wigs are coming to get their house in order.
There is no doubt that employees at Linden View care for their clients with how intimate of the job a caregiver has in their duties in forming a personal bond. But are workers being afforded the necessary and essential training so they can do their job to the best of their ability?
A common theme seems to be not only from former and current employees, but from local politicians as well that the facility is understaffed, putting undue pressure on the caring employees already there.
There is also the White Elephant in the room no one wants to talk about of the hybrid private/public funding and function of the nature of Good Samaritans when it comes to care facilities like Linden View. Given any corporate structure, expense and revenue flowcharts have to be adhered to for healthy margins and sometimes it can be seniors that can be caught in the number crunch. Are corners being cut in the tools and supplies used to care for our elderly for a more favourable bottom line?
Hopes are the Taber Times Linden View story brings all stakeholders to the table looking to ask the tough questions and look for answers to fill the gaps when it comes to quality care for our seniors.
The status quo is obviously not enough, but the debate seems to be where those gaps are.
How those gaps are uncovered will not be done by simply keeping quiet.
It took a lot of courage for people to voice their opinions at that meeting last month, knowing the obvious repercussions that were to follow.
There are too many people who have voiced their concerns not only at that public meeting that has raised all this controversy, but on coffee row of past and current residents of Linden View and the Internet, to simply sluff off the comments.
All sides must join now to look at solutions for affordable, yet quality care for our elderly loved ones not only at a local, but provincial and federal level as well.
We owe it not only to the present generation of seniors that reside at Linden View and similar facilities like it, but future generations as well as they make their way to their golden years. Care levels for our seniors should be examined, both pros and cons consistently.
These are people that have helped build this country to what it is today and should not be taken lightly where we not only as individuals, but as a province and country must align our priorities to what we find most important.
Seniors have invested so much of themselves in us over the years, now is the time to show that investment back in them through healthy debate, forward-thinking and progress with concrete solutions to take care of the people who may not be able to take care of themselves any longer. This is a topic that affects us all as Father Time marches on in all our lives.