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Resident's loved one raises concerns about staffing at Colonel Belcher Carewest

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This week, families and advocates have been sounding the alarm about a mental-health program at a Calgary long-term care home.

But that's not the only safety concern at Colonel Belcher Carewest.

According to a loved one, staffing shortages are also putting residents at risk.

Christine Prosser's 89-year-old husband, Stanley, has dementia and has been at Colonel Belcher Carewest since November 2023.

She is happy to visit the love of her life every day but says the staff is stretched so thin, she has to provide a lot of his care herself.

The senior is exhausted and says it's unsafe since she can't lift her husband, who often falls.

"There's days I feel I can't go on," Prosser said.

Prosser said recent staffing changes have made things worse.

"It's a challenging time right now for my husband, me and I think a lot of loved ones that are in the Carewest facilities," she said.

Christine Prosser's 89-year-old husband, Stanley, has dementia and has been at Colonel Belcher Carewest since November 2023.

Friends of Medicare says staffing in continuing care has been an area of concern for many years and provincial legislation that began April 1 made it worse by reducing minimum care hours and removing clear accountability and enforcement.

"It's not good for the workers, it's not good for the families and what we've really done is create a system that counts on family members to show up and fill that gap," said Chris Galloway with Friends of Medicare.

Carewest says since the pandemic, Colonel Belcher staff increased by 30 full-time equivalents.

Prosser says most are part-timers who have to float around at several facilities, making it very difficult to provide the specific care each resident needs.

She worries about what would happen if she couldn't come in and feels for the other residents who don't have family able to help.

She urges others to voice their concerns and calls on the government to make drastic changes.

"A big shake-up. They need someone in power who will implement the times and the care of our loved ones. Every day, I see what goes on and every day my heart breaks a little bit more," Prosser said.

The minister of health's office sent a statement saying they are very concerned by this situation.

Alberta Health, together with seniors, community and social services, will expedite the review of this program at this facility and determine if any action should be taken.

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