February 20, 2019 6:54 pm

B.C. seniors could be facing care shortage

The need for better senior care in B.C. is growing rapidly.

Kathleen Finlay / Getting Images
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It should be no surprise to know that our population is aging at an accelerating rate and this means there is a growing need for better care services for seniors.

This also means that it’s a field in dire need of new workers.

Daniel Fontaine is the CEO for the B.C. Care Providers Association. He has been very vocal about how challenging meeting this growing need has been.

“We’re hoping that in partnership with the government, we can do something to address it,” he said.

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In September of last year, the BC NDP government pushed through a $240-million investment in hopes of increasing direct care for seniors. But according to Fontaine, while the investments are helpful, more needs to be done to keep up with the pace of the growing numbers of seniors. Better accessibility to facilities has been a primary concern.

READ MORE: BC’s seniors advocate speaks on investigations into deaths at care homes

Along with the need for better care, comes the need for more workers in the field.

“They’re retiring so fast and they’re aging so quickly, that we don’t have enough people to take care of the seniors,” Fontaine said.

He suggests that the perception of the work being monotonous and repetitious is a falsehood and is one of the key reasons why this field is not attracting enough workers.

“There literally are millions of interactions between the care aides and the seniors every single day, and people don’t see that,” he said.

Another reason why it hasn’t been a very attractive field is that potential workers are not fully aware of the compensation combined with the low requirements for entry.

“They have a very good starting pay, and they can have some really good benefits as well,” he said.

It’s a field in which you can get qualified to work in less than six to seven months, according to Fontaine.

LISTEN: Daniel Fontaine discusses the urgent need for better seniors care:

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When it comes to the future of senior care, policies will be changing on April 1st that will improve accessibility.

Initially, you could only choose one facility when looking for care. If this happened to be a facility that wasn’t ideal in terms of location, you had no alternatives. This won’t be the case after April 1st.

“You can actually pick one of three care homes, so you’ll have way more options as a consumer.”

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