A Bonnyville-based care provider says she has not been able to find out if Alberta Health Services (AHS) intends to offer one of its programs, currently available in Edmonton and Calgary, to seniors and other clients in the Lakeland.

Kathryn Vasseur, who operates Apidae Compassion Care, would like to see AHS offer its Client Directed Home Care Invoicing (CDHCI) program in its North Zone. The program, operated by AHS and Alberta Blue Cross, allows providers like Vasseur to invoice AHS directly for care provided to clients.

An email from AHS in response to questions from Respect explains that “in North Zone, Albertans are provided with home care services and may be presented with the option to utilize self-managed care.” CDCHI is not mentioned as an option.

Self-managed care allows clients to hire service providers they need, and to submit receipts for reimbursement.

In its email AHS also said that “Edmonton and Calgary provide the option of home care services, self-managed care, and also Client Directed Home Care Invoicing Program (CDHCI) as a third option.”

AHS declined to answer when, or whether, CDCHI might be offered in the North Zone.

Vasseur says self-managed care offers clients a degree of choice, but at the same time it creates administrative work for them to file for reimbursement.

“Rather than having Alberta Blue Cross facilitate it, these families now have to become bookkeepers,” she said. “They have to hire the staff. They have to do payroll.” With a CDCHI program, a care provider would bill AHS directly — meaning less paperwork for a client or their family.

According to Vasseur, expanded options including AHS home care, self-managed care, and CDCHI offer choices that allow people to stay in their homes longer. This is consistent with what most older people want for themselves, and has many positive outcomes for long-term health.

“When you start providing more support for seniors in their homes, their overall happiness increases, their overall well-being increases, and hospitalization decreases,” she said. 

It is also beneficial for family members and other caregivers.

“It’s not just about the client that needs the care. It’s also providing support to their loved ones, especially their spouses,” Vasseur said.

“If somebody is an active senior, then has a catastrophic event, now they’re solely relying on their spouse who has never taken on the role as a caregiver. It can be really overwhelming. So any funding that is in place to help alleviate some of that doesn’t only benefit the patient or the client, but the family as a whole.”

She tells of a client who was in a local hospital awaiting placement. The client’s family was paying $60 a day for the hospital stay, but because of staff shortages she wasn’t able to get regular showers or baths. Her family had to pay an additional $40 per hour for Vasseur to help out.

“Even though these people are in hospital, they’re still not getting the care they need, and families are still having to pay more out of pocket to get those basic needs met. And that’s not okay,” Vasseur said. “I feel like we could do better. And I don’t know what the answer is, but it’s about working together to see what we can do as a community to help support our aging population.”

Vasseur has heard unofficially that CDCHI is being developed for the North Zone, but she has not received any specific information. She’s still hoping to get definitive answers.

“It’s not about blaming anyone or calling AHS out or anything. It’s just hopefully another option for people struggling,” she said.