Concerns mount over province's new bath policy
Province announces new rules that require care centres to give two baths per week
There is some skepticism building about how long term care centres will be able to give residents two baths a week without getting extra money from the province.
On Tuesday, the two-baths rule was added to the standards that guide continuing care health services and applies immediately. The old rules didn't stipulate the number of baths.
According to a news release, the costs of the added bathing should be absorbed by the care provider or Alberta Health Services.
Tom McMeekin, who has been in long term care for nine years, questions if facilities can provide more than one bath every day if they’re not given more money.
"I don't think that they can give us more than one bath a week with the staff they have — It's a simple as that," McMeekin says, who currently resides at the Carewest Colonel Belcher Care Centre.
Glen Scott, with the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, says staffing at most places is limited.
"I don't think it's doable, I mean if they want to achieve that I think that obviously they're going to have to…take from another area of care," Scott said.
The Alberta Continuing Care Association also believes the additional bath or shower every week will be met with challenges for some institutions.
"The funding is always tight and this will have some implications around the number of staff who are going to be required to do lifts and to assist people with a bath," said executive director Bruce West. "And we would always like to see recognition that changes in policy have financial implications."
However West says many care centres already do bathe residents more than once a week.
And he says showers, bed baths and sponge baths are included in the new standard which will make it a bit easier for some care plans.
McMeekin, who has become an advocate for improving conditions at care centres, says the bathing has always been an issue.
"Most of us go from an environment in which we have a bath every day," McMeekin says. "We come into this place which has one bath a week — it's a bit of a blow you have to adjust to."