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 the Home Care office in Red Deer does not lend out medical equipment, this is not true of all Home Care offices, as offices in 42 other Alberta communities do lend out medical equipment. Other non-government organizations that offer medical equipment lending programs are:
- The Lending Cupboard, Red Deer;
- The Canadian Red Cross Society (Calgary, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer);
- AJ’s Loan Cupboard, Medicine Hat;
- Medi Lend, Wetaskiwin; and
- The Medical Equipment Lending Society, Rocky Mountain House.
It is not evident that all Alberta municipalities experience issues with accessing affordable medical equipment, or need to develop local medical equipment lending initiatives, particularly those whose are currently served by their Home Office. Accordingly, 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.
Central Alberta residents who need to access to medical equipment on a short-term basis may apply to either the Canadian Red Cross Society or the Lending Cupboard. Alberta Health Services does provide funding to the Lending Cupboard. Additionally, the Lending Cupboard has introduced a $10 processing fee to offset its overhead and operational costs associated with processing applications and maintaining equipment.
It is unlikely that the province will increase or provide new funding for medical lending services in the near future, given its own fiscal pressures. The funding of key programs for the non-profit sector, including the Community Grants Programs and Family and Community Support Services, has remained flat over the past two years. AUMA has also been advocating for the province to invest significant amounts of funding in a new Municipal Sustainability Initiative, as well as sharing a large portion of cannabis excise tax revenue. Additional requests for funding by AUMA during a period of economic restraint may be perceived as being unreasonable. It is therefore recommended that the province’s response to resolution on supporting medical equipment lending initiatives be accepted.
AUMA will highlight concerns around the issue of downloading healthcare onto municipalities in AUMA's 2019 budget submission.