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Health care aides help clients stay in their homes longer

The Rimbey Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) has had a contract with Alberta Health Services (AHS) for about 40 years, to provide health care aides for clients in the community. These health care aides work under the Rimbey Community Home Help Services branch of FCSS.

Health care aides with FCSS provide home care for clients in need, coming into a person’s home to provide personal care such as assistance with medication, dressing, bathing, grooming, exercise, feeding or sometimes specialized treatment that people need help with, such as ostomy care. The health care aides can provide respite work as well, looking after a client while their usual caregiver is out.

“It’s a nursing aide level of care, but the client doesn’t need to be in a hospital for that little bit of care,” explained Peggy Makofka, executive director for Rimbey FCSS. “A health care aide can go in and deliver that service and it’s provided for free through the health care system.”

Makofka said a registered nurse that works for home care with AHS will do an assessment of the client to see what services are needed. The visits can be short and then the health care aide will go and help another client. Sometimes a health care aide will help the same client several times in one day — for example, in the morning to help get dressed, in the afternoon for medications and again in the evening for a bath.

“It’s an excellent program,” Makofka said. “It’s one of the best things out there in health care.”

The health care aide program takes about eight months to complete and can be done through a local college, Makofka explained.

FCSS currently employs 41 health care aides for the Rimbey community, which also includes the west half of Ponoka County. Within that area, the health care aides have about 155 clients and total 165 hours of care each day.

“This is absolutely a need in this community,” Makofka said of the work health care aides perform. “My feeling is that people want to be at home, if they possibly can. With this level of care that’s out there, this allows them to stay at home because we can parachute in and provide enough care for them to be able to do that.”

Rimbey is unique in that the health care aides come through FCSS. In other communities, health care aides can work through AHS or with another specific employer, such as a nursing home or within a hospital. Rimbey FCSS offers casual positions, but Makofka said this often works out well for their health care aides, because their schedule is more flexible and they can pick up or turn down jobs as needed.

“We should really recognize that health care aides are often the unsung heroes,” Makofka said. “It’s often not the highest rate of pay, maybe they don’t get as much attention as someone with a fancy job title, but their value is huge and maybe not always appreciated by the community in general.”

If you or someone you know could benefit from having a health care aide, reach out to AHS’s home care department.


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