Olds establishes committee focused on attraction, retention of health-care providers

May 8, 2023

After a significant period of brainstorming, consultation, and strategizing, a group of Olds residents are almost ready to launch a committee dedicated to attracting and integrating new health-care providers to the area and retaining the ones already working hard in the community.
Last year, the Community Lifestyles Committee met with a rural community consultant from the Rural Health Professions Action Plan (RhPAP) to discuss potential partnership opportunities. Further conversations continued as the Town was approached to ask for support and involvement, as well as other community partners, which unfolded into a “First Committee” eventually being formed. This First Committee had a goal of consulting with the community to see what a future Attraction and Retention committee might look like, and what goals residents and stakeholders might have when it came to health care in Olds and area.
In November 2022, representatives from the Community Lifestyles Committee, Town of Olds, and RhPAP came together at the Olds Legion for a Community Conversation on Health Care. The invitation list included local businesses, residents, a wide range of health-care providers, and representatives from Alberta Health Services and the municipalities of Olds and Mountain View County. On that snowy evening, about 35 people gathered to provide input within this facilitated conversation. The goal of this evening session was to identify what assets already existed in the community, what priorities were top-of-mind when it came to health care, and how a committee might address these priorities.
The outcome of this conversation revealed the following: 
•    Olds has a great wealth of assets that should be used to their fullest extent, and potentially built upon in spreading awareness regarding what is available and how to access these services.
•    Top priorities among participants included anything and everything related to family physicians and hospital privileging; mental health for all ages; access to care in general; timeliness and availability of all health-care providers; aging-in-place; and transportation.
•    Potential solutions posed included: education and awareness; exploring strategies specifically related to attraction and retention; creating a plan of action or task force; supporting advocacy efforts; and additional community consultation.
Many people also expressed an interest in being involved in a committee and community efforts moving forward. From this list original of people, folks from the First Committee have now narrowed down the selection based on a brief survey and pre-established Terms of Reference. Now, they are excited to announce a standing committee will be struck within the coming weeks and begin meeting regularly to focus on how the community can come together to support health-care providers in Olds and area.
As a resident of the town of Olds for the past 10 years, I have recognized a need to focus on attracting and retaining healthcare professionals to our community. Although I am keenly aware that there is currently a global healthcare crisis, there is still a part our community can play in expanding our current complement of healthcare professionals. To support these efforts, we are fortunate to have multiple community members from varying backgrounds who are willing to work together to make this happen. 

  • Erin Lowe, Registered Nurse and Nursing Instructor with Red Deer Polytechnic 
    (Acting Chair with the First Committee)

The Town of Olds is grateful that our local volunteers once again stepped up to support an important community cause. The Town is proud to work with them to achieve better health care outcomes in our area and to make Olds an even better place to live. Through supporting the vision and leadership of this committee, the Town hopes public conversations on quality health care become more frequent and that our citizenry works together on our shared goal of improving health outcomes for our people. 

  • Brent Williams, Chief Administrative Officer, Town of Olds

Further to this, the First Committee would like to reiterate that the attraction, retention, and integration of health-care providers begins with a strong and supportive community and thank everyone for their support and interest in keeping health-care close to home. Upon the striking of the ongoing committee (who will confirm their name and direction moving forward based on the framework provided), the First Committee will be dissolved. Closely working with the new core committee will be representatives from the Peaks to Prairies Primary Care Network, RhPAP, Alberta Health Services, and other supporting stakeholders. This is only the beginning of positive and productive conversations, and they look forward to continuing to include the residents, businesses, health-care providers and other stakeholders in ongoing feedback mechanisms.

Read the news release complete with attachments

Media Contacts:
For media inquiries to the Town of Olds, please contact: communications@olds.ca