Silvera asking government for 24/7 home care in supportive living communities

23 May 2023

As a trusted leader in Calgary’s seniors housing market, Silvera is also a committed advocate for affordable seniors’ housing. We partner with all levels of government to ensure independent older adults have access to safe and affordable housing options, as well as the important services and supports that help them age in place. During the provincial election campaign, Silvera is advocating for four key priorities: workforce stability; 24/7 home care; more affordable housing, and outbreak funding.

Silvera is lobbying the provincial government to provide funding for 24/7 home care in our supportive living communities.

“The number of Calgary seniors needing basic care and help with daily life is increasing faster than the continuing care capacity is growing,” says Olivia Chubey, Chief Service & Operations Officer. “Supportive living communities give seniors the best quality of life, while also being the least expensive accommodation option as compared to long-term care.”

As a result of falls, mobility or cognitive changes, more than 50 per cent of Silvera’s supportive living residents transfer to higher levels of care every year. Many residents visit hospitals to address the basic care needs. Between 2019 and 2020, each of Silvera supportive living communities averaged 61 EMS calls per month.

Currently, when a resident falls, Silvera employees must call EMS, who have the training to determine if a resident can be moved.

“Housing providers like Silvera are not staffed to provide basic health care, so we are forced to use EMS. Most residents transported to the hospital are not admitted and return home the same day,” says Olivia.

Between April 2021 and April 2023, Silvera made 1,600 EMS calls. Commonly, residents are sent to hospital for things like falls, pain, dementia-related issues, bladder and respiratory infections, which can generally be better managed in the community with the proper home care supports.

The number of seniors in Alberta requiring early dementia support is also growing, which puts pressure on the entire healthcare system. “This has been exacerbated by the pandemic – studies show that seniors’ cognitive health and social health has dipped overall in the past few years. Seniors come to Silvera with more complexities,” says Olivia.

Nutrition, programming and in-community partner services who work with residents’ benefit levels for things such as optometry, hearing aids, audiology, dental hygiene, massage therapy, footcare and chiropractic care all contribute to residents’ well being, but these things are not enough, says Olivia.

“Basic care provided by 24/7 home care would be a game-changer, as we could help residents live in our communities longer,” she says. “This model aligns with Alberta government’s intention to create more community care capacity, improve quality of life for seniors and keep continuing care for those who truly need higher care.”

The cost difference between community-based care versus continuing or acute care is staggering: Silvera supportive living costs $100/day, long-term care beds cost $180/day, and an acute care bed costs an average of $1,500/day. These costs do not factor in unnecessary EMS transport costs.

Silvera’s memory care program at Beaverdam Commons and the mobility care program at Shawnessy Commons both have provided onsite 24/7 home care for many years.

“The 24/7 home care model has been demonstrated to be extremely successful to maximize how long seniors live in community,” Olivia says. “Home care presence was essential to successfully manage the pandemic, from early detection to mitigating the spread of transmission.”

Unfortunately, she adds, the waitlists for both programs are very long. “The demand for this community care model is there, but we don’t have enough capacity to support the number of people who need this type of basic care.”

With at least half of Silvera residents moving out to higher care every year, not everyone who leaves is at a point where they need 24/7 nursing — some people just need basic care to age in-place.

“Imagine moving to a higher level of care because you need help changing an incontinence product at night when traditional home care is not available. We need to do better than that,” she says.

Offering 24/7 home care in our communities can unlock more community care capacity, prevent unnecessary hospital transports and prevent premature transfers to higher levels of care. This benefits our health system and allows seniors to continue living in familiar neighbourhoods, where they build support networks, with better quality of life outcomes.

“The 24/7 home care model means everyone wins,” Olivia concludes.