WATCH: Petition pushes for higher staffing levels at B.C. seniors care facilities

ARMSTRONG – A Shuswap area woman is fighting for better care for the elderly after learning about the conditions inside seniors facilities when her own parents went into care. Judy Galley of Tappen is organizing a petition calling on the provincial government to increase staffing levels by legislating specific staff-to-client ratios in seniors care facilities.

“At the moment they are horribly understaffed and that is because there are no specific legislated requirements for staff levels in senior facilities, which is the main reason for most of the neglect that goes on in these facilities,” says Galley. “The seniors have worked their entire lives helping build up this province, paying their taxes and they are being completely abandoned by their government.”

But B.C.’s health minister paints a different picture.

“I would say that seniors in British Columbia in facilities, whether they are through health authorities or through the private sector, are well cared for,” says Terry Lake.

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The provincial Community Care and Assisted Living Act, sets out requirements for staffing coverage but doesn’t list specific staff-to-client ratios.

“When you have a specific hours per day per resident, that has the sort of impression that every resident…has exactly the same needs and I think that is sort of the lowest common denominator approach,” says Lake.

Galley is hoping her petition will lead to change and has other dates set up in Kelowna and Salmon Arm to gather signatures.

“The citizens of this province have got to make the government accountable for their actions especially when it comes to senior care facilities,” says Galley.

Meanwhile, the local health authority says they aren’t prescriptive about staffing ratios because residents needs vary.

“For example, staffing on special care units will be different. We are responsive to the needs of the residents living in each site. At all sites, residents receive a minimum number of direct care hours per day – this includes nursing and allied health services such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy,” writes Interior Health’s executive director of residential services Karen Bloemink.