The minister of health and the head of Alberta Health Services (AHS) are promising the province will do a better job of delivering continuing care.

They spoke on Thursday following the release of two reports that are critical of health care policies in Alberta.

"We have let people down," said Health Minister Fred Horne, whose department asked the Health Quality Council of Alberta (HQCA) to review continuing care issues in the province.

The first report found problems with oversight and monitoring of facilities that are often run by private companies and their contracts with government are not standardized.

"That was something definitely lacking in my grandmother's case. It didn't seem like there were standards for her type of care," said Breanne Sinclair. Her grandmother lived in a Calgary care home and died after sores on her legs and feet became severely infected.

It was one of the cases made public by families who spoke out in the past year about the care their relatives were receiving.

"I think the Health Quality Council made a very important point when they essentially said it's not clear where the buck stops when it comes to assuring Albertans about the quality and safety of care in continuing care centres. So that changes today," said Health Minister Horne.

The government is working on a standard contract for all providers and they will be required to meet a national accreditation standard.

The Department of Health immediately takes over the monitoring of the delivery of care including private, public, not-for-profit and home care providers.

Audits of all of those providers will be made public.

Continuing care wait lists

In its second report the HQCA also found problems with the way people are moved into continuing care after being placed on a wait list.

Dr. Eric Wasylenko is a palliative care physician and a consultant for the HQCA.

"The inability to actually have the system to address them in the way that gives them time to make good decisions , that doesn't pressure them."

"That's reiterated multiple times throughout the process is, if you don't take this spot, somebody else is going to get it. You're just a number in the line of beds," said Breanne Sinclair.

AHS President Vickie Kaminski said health professionals will work more closely with family and patients to ensure they have more say when they have to look at the options and choose what kind of care they need.

"If we've made somebody feel that they've been forced in a situation that really was not something they were prepared to live with, we're sorry."

High demand continues

Kaminski said the province has added 3,000 continuing care beds in Alberta over the past three years and still is not able to keep up with demand as the population grows.

She said AHS will work on developing better tools to forecast future needs and the best way to make the current supply work better.

The government is adopting all the recommendations laid out by the HQCA.