By Carlie Connolly
Alberta’s population is growing and so has the demand for health care aides. With more people in the province, this means there is a higher demand for healthcare resources. The population in the province is also aging and its projected that by 2031, approximately one in five Albertans will be senior or over the age of 65. With that, Alberta Health Services said that approximately 30% report that they have a chronic health condition, and that increases to over 75% if you’re over the age of 65.
Sean Chilton, chief zone officer of the south zone for Alberta health services said that over the next five years, they estimate that eight to ten percent of the workforce could retire so they projected retirement and expected demands for increased health services.
“We’re likely going to have a demand for health care clinical workers over the next five years and right now what we do know is the supply from universities, colleges and schools is probably not quite meeting what we’re seeing the projected demand being,” he said.
Alberta Health Services needs to work more closely with these educational institutions to ensure that they match the supply and demand together. Chilton said that another thing they need to look at is how they provide the services and make sure they have the right individual providing the right care at the right time. So, looking at if they are using the appropriate skill sets of all health care providers to the maximum of their ability.
With the growing demand for services, particularly in the seniors population, the need for health care aides will be essential and critical to meet the care of the growing and aging population.
“As we start to see growth in our continuing care beds (homecare services), health care aides are instrumental in the delivery in those program services in those areas,” Chilton said.
The need for health care aides is increasing and will continue to increase if it’s going to match the demand they are anticipating over the next five years.
In the seniors and continuing care areas, health care aides are the critical component.
The health care aide program that has entered the province is hoping to get more interested and in turn have more health care aides working in various places across the province.
“Working in health is a very rewarding role for people and I do believe that overall people want to work with people and seniors and I think that having a structured program will really help support individuals in making a decision in whether to take on that role.”
Providing the program with education he said, helps people feel more comfortable and more confident in the position and role they are taking on. When you then pair that with a growing demand for health care aides in certain areas, Chilton thinks that by offering the educational program, they will start to see more individuals wanting to participate.
“The implementation of health care aides is not intended to help save the province money but to provide the level of service that’s matched to their training and requirements,” he said.
Their intent is that seeing the growing demand for the health care aide program across the province and the areas of the aging and growing population, demand for health care aides is actually increasing. It is especially evident in areas of seniors care, and so by providing the programs in the province, they hope to attract more people into the roles.