July 19, 2016 9:00 pm
Updated: July 19, 2016 9:02 pm

Are we ready for the ‘grey wave’? Health authorities work to adapt to aging demographic

WATCH ABOVE: Many of us have an elderly parent or other relative who needs assistance with their day-to-day routine. Most would agree they'll be happier and healthier living at home as long as possible, and that's where home care comes into play. But one independent home care business in the Okanagan says the government needs to change the type of care that seniors are being offered. Neetu Garcha reports.

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Many seniors want to age in place. One Okanagan woman and her support workers believe it’s crucial as the population continues to age, but some say there’s a lack in financial support from health authorities.

West Kelowna resident Mary Anne Goerzen, 87, said she’s lived in her home for almost 30 years and she doesn’t plan to leave.

Staff from a private care service come directly to her home and help her with things like cooking, cleaning and health care.

But she says they also provide something else: companionship.

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“You can open up to them and get things off your chest; it makes you feel that you’re wanted,” Goerzen said.

Even though it may cost him potential business, the owner of a private home care business in Kelowna wants the province to invest more in public home care.

“We feel that there could be more consistency with the care of the same people because you can’t judge the progress or the decline of our seniors without having gone in to see them in the past,” owner of Health at Home Care Services, Michael Bratt said.

Bratt’s mother died last September from colon cancer. She’s the reason he dropped his career as a veterinarian to start a new one focused on better care for seniors.

“We were very frustrated with not being able to get the level of care that we needed for [my] mom so we started this company,” Bratt said.

“I gave up my veterinary clinic, sold it and started this company.”

The Ministry of Health said in the last 15 years, the number of clients receiving home health services in B.C. increased by almost 30 per cent and in that time, B.C. health authorities also increased spending on home and community care by 82 per cent.

Meanwhile, the Interior Health Authority (IHA) said by the end of this year, it expects to open a new service offering geriatric specialist assessments and referrals to seniors living at home.

IHA said it will have an announcement in the coming weeks about more residential care capacity in the region, including in the south Okanagan.

It will also be offering more care home services to seniors in the valley.

The authority expects to finish 100 new residential care beds in Kelowna by early next year and 85 new residential care beds in Vernon by mid-2017.

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