IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association advocate to the provincial government to encourage:
- That Alberta Health Services increase its funding support to all organizations, such as the Lending Cupboard Society of Alberta, and include annual incremental increases;
- That Alberta Seniors and Housing and Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) also support all organizations, such as the Lending Cupboard Society of Alberta; and
- That these government ministries support municipalities and communities across Alberta to develop local medical equipment lending initiatives.
WHEREAS Alberta Health Services has established policy and practice whereby post-operative and other patients who may need medical equipment are being released from hospital relatively quickly;
WHEREAS Alberta Health Services has established a policy in which Home Care providers will no longer lend out medical equipment;
WHEREAS in rural communities, seniors, those with chronic illness and disease, and those experiencing injury, may not have access to affordable medical equipment, even on a rental basis, and there may be restrictions on time allowances;
WHEREAS the Lending Cupboard Society of Alberta lends out about 4,300 pieces of equipment, at no cost, to central Albertans;
WHEREAS this type of no-charge medical equipment lending initiative saves Alberta Health Services substantial amounts of money each year; and
WHEREAS both urban and rural communities across the province have expressed a strong need for a local initiative similar to The Lending Cupboard, which will:
- Allow seniors to age in place;
- Improve health outcomes and quality of life for seniors, those with chronic illness and disease, and those experiencing injury; and
- Contribute to the vibrancy and wellness of communities across the province.
Community Needs Assessment: http://lendingcupboard.ca/news-events/
The Lending Cupboard was established in Red Deer to fill a need for individuals who may not necessarily be able to afford equipment post operation or injury; they provide equipment indefinitely for some patients regardless of income. The Lending Cupboard is based in Red Deer providing equipment to patients predominantly in Central Alberta, however with the growing need they have also been loaning equipment to patients throughout the province. Following for reference is a listing by community of equipment disbursement. Note that 54 municipalities are listed as benefitting from this centralized service.
Additionally there are other organizations that are looking to follow the model of the Lending Cupboard in order to provide for the local need to patients: Medicine Hat, Wetaskiwin, and Rocky Mountain House have or are trying to establish a medical equipment lending facilities. The Lending Cupboard is working with these local organizations to help provide assistance and expertise. The Red Cross also has a program to loan equipment to patients, but they have more stringent timelines to how long a piece of equipment can be loaned.
Alberta Heath Services does provide the Lending Cupboard funding however it is for specific patients of Total Joint Arthroplasty. For all other patients, these organizations are trying to fill a gap in the system without any overall support; and doctors and nurses are constantly referring patients to the Lending Cupboard for equipment. The listing below demonstrates the distribution of over 9,500 pieces of equipment of which only 350 are for Total Joint Arthroplasty (TJA).
The Lending Cupboard Society of Alberta
Client Transaction Count
Transactions between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017
The Minister’s response to the 2017 resolution indicates that the province recognizes that “many Albertans need affordable access to medical equipment on a short-term basis”, and that short-term medical equipment programs are in place to provide loaner equipment for Albertans recovering from injuries, surgery, or those who need support in their own homes after hospitalization. The Minister also states that “Alberta Health is working with AHS and other stakeholders to identify how to broaden the provision of medical equipment and supplies in the community and the most effective way to deliver those services.”
While researching this issue, AUMA learned that although the Alberta Health Services Home Care office in Red Deer does not lend out medical equipment, this is not true of all Home Care offices. Home Care offices in 42 other Alberta communities do lend out medical equipment, so these communities do not need to develop additional local medical equipment lending initiatives. There are only five non-government organizations in Alberta, including the Lending Cupboard, that receive provincial funding to deliver medical equipment lending programs. The AUMA Board felt that advocating for the Government of Alberta to enhance funding for a small number private charities that do not serve all or a majority of AUMA members may be viewed as unfair, and accordingly approved accepting the Minister’s response. However, AUMA will continue to highlight concerns around the issue of downloading healthcare onto municipalities in our advocacy and budget submissions.