Edmonton·In Depth

Long-term care, supportive living and home care - how do they differ?

The different levels of care offered to Alberta seniors can be confusing, especially as the government announces measures to move people out of hospital beds into more appropriate settings.
The Alberta government is under pressure to move seniors out of acute care beds in hospitals into more appropriate settings. (CBC)

The levels of care offered to Alberta seniors can be confusing, especially as the government announces measures to move people out of hospital beds into more appropriate settings.

Here’s how Alberta Health Services defines the different types of care that are available.

Long-term care:

Alberta Health Services describes long- term care as a service for people with complex health needs who require a more hospital-like setting. In other words, 24-hour care from registered nurses or licensed practical nurses in nursing homes and “auxiliary” hospital settings

Supportive living:

A facility where seniors can live privately and independently, while still having access to meals, housekeeping, common areas, emergency response and 24-hour monitoring. Publicly funded personal and health care can be made available. People can get 24-hour nursing care, if required. There are also supportive living facilities for people with dementia.

Home care: 

Support services and publicly funded health care for eligible clients living at home or in a supportive living facility.

Continuing care:

The overall term that encompasses long-term care, supportive living and home care -- all the care options available for seniors which vary in the extent of medical and personal attention they receive.

What has been announced so far:

Phase one: On Oct. 14, Premier Jim Prentice and Health Minister Stephen Mandel announced that 464 continuing care spaces will be opened over the next year in an effort to free up beds in the province’s crowded hospitals.

Phase two: The province will spend $180 million dollars to create more continuing care beds. Some of these will be in buildings, not yet built. Alberta’s senior’s minister, Jeff Johnson, has been asked to work with community and faith-based groups to “fast track” the creation of these beds. It’s not yet clear where these beds will be or which level of care they will provide.

Mandel describes phase two as a “package of housing,” that may exist in either the big cities or rural areas.

“To meet the needs of the communities so we are not leaving people in any part of the province short changed for the kind of long term care that they need,” he said.

The provincial government plans to open up a total of 1,400 continuing care beds by 2018.

The breakdown of where the 464 continuing care beds will be in the next year:

Edmonton         

0-3 months         22

0-6 months        12

Total              149

Calgary:     

0-3 months        51

            0-6 months        143

            Total            194

North:           

6-12 months        55

Central:        

6-12 months        28


South:          

 0-6 months        38

now