New Brunswick Seniors Classed As ALC Patients
This paper is based on analysis of the experiences of seniors classed as Alternate Level Care (ALC) patients in New Brunswick, Canada. ALC patients, derisively referred to as ‘bed blockers,’ are those who occupy acute care hospital beds while waiting to be discharged home or to care in alternate settings. Our objective in this research was to study the home support needs of seniors classed as ALC patients in New Brunswick. We recruited research participants (6 men and 11 women) through the New Brunswick health authorities Réseau de Santé Vitalité and the Horizon Health Network and used semi-structured interviewing as our primary method of data collection. Participants' ages ranged from 65 to 99 with most falling between 75 and 99 years of age. 9 identified as Francophone, 6 Anglophone, 1 as both English and French speaking, and 1 who claimed neither French nor English as first language. The central findings from our research are that there is a need for comprehensive and coordinated home support, extra mural health care, and respite services that would allow seniors to return home from hospital or would prevent them from becoming ALC patients. Population aging is an acute problem in New Brunswick where the proportion of the population over 65 had already reached 18% by 2014 (CBC 2014). Thus this paper contributes to addressing the policy challenges presented by an aging population and to the issue of ALC patients in this province.