March 7, 2016 7:48 pm
Updated: March 7, 2016 11:40 pm

New changes to Assisted Living Act means more independence for seniors

WATCH: The B.C. government is changing its criteria for seniors moving to residential care.

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New amendments made to the Community Care and Assisted Living Act are hoping to improve housing choices for seniors as they age.

The changes, which will allow seniors to live more independently or without being moved into full-time residential care residences, come after B.C. seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie’s 2015 report on seniors housing.

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“As the seniors advocate noted in her report on housing last year, many seniors have had to transfer to residential care sooner than necessary because of the existing rules,” said Health Minister Terry Lake in a statement.

“We recognize that the needs of people in assisted-living residences can vary and they require more flexibility to stay in this more home-like setting longer.”

Advocates believe the changes are heading in the right direction.

“This is a very positive move in the direction of increasing choices for seniors as they age. Assisted living offers independence, while providing care only to the level that is needed by the individual senior. Removing some of the arbitrary barriers that existed under the previous legislation will be welcomed by many seniors,” said Mackenzie.

Assisted-living residences typically offer housing, meals, medication management and will help adults who can live by themselves but need some help with daily activities. Accommodations can range from private rooms in a home to an apartment-style building with suites.

Whereas residential-care homes provide 24-hour professional care and supervision in a protected environment for people with complex care needs and are no longer able to live in their own homes.

Currently, residents who need more than two of the six “prescribed services” offered in assisted-living (daily living, medication management, therapeutic diets, financial management, intensive rehabilitation therapy and behavioural management) are expected to move to a residential-care home.

The removal of service limits allow assisted-living residents to stay in their home-like setting and get a variety of care.

“The BC Seniors Living Association applauds the legislative changes that increase the number of prescribed services that can be delivered for seniors in assisted living. This is a practical and much-needed senior-centred change,” said Carole Holmes, BC Seniors Living Association president.

Lake said the government is not only working on “assisted living and residential care but also across the spectrum to improve services and supports for seniors.”

Other changes to the act include allowing the assisted-living registrar, who is charged with the health and safety of the residents, the ability to inspect a residence at any time to determine if there is a risk to a resident.

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