Senior care advocates call on B.C. government to address gaps in service

Click to play video: 'Problems with long-term seniors care in B.C.'
Problems with long-term seniors care in B.C.
WATCH: One day after the NDP government announced it will take over management of home care, advocates of long-term care say the system still has major problems. Nadia Stewart reports – Mar 14, 2019

Senior care advocates are trying to get the government’s attention to try and close what they call a long-standing funding gap.

The BC Seniors Living Association (BCSLA), which represents independent assisted living providers, says there is a gap in care for those seniors who are currently in assisted living homes but are waiting to get into higher care facilities.

“We’re faced with taking care of people needing 3.36 hours per day,” said BCSLA president Tanya Snow. “But they’re only receiving on average approximately 1.1 [hours per day].”
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On average, funded assisted living beds receive 1.2 hours of direct care per resident per day. However, once it’s determined higher care is needed, those hours only increase slightly to about two hours while they wait.

When compared to the hours of care this senior-in-waiting would receive at a higher care facility, there’s a gap of 1.36 hours of care for these particular seniors per day.

“We have people at the same level of acuity, the same high level of need, the same safety concerns,” BCSLA interim CEO Alison Howard said.

“So, as families, you’re concerned about their safety: are they OK in their suites, are they getting the watchful eye that they need at two hours of care that they could maybe get those safety checks more often at two-and-a-half, three, three-point-six hours of care?”

WATCH (Aired March 13) NDP government takes control of private home care

Click to play video: 'NDP government takes control of home support care'
NDP government takes control of home support care

This year, the BCSLA lists 174 buildings under their watch, with each of them holding an average of 16 suites, making for a total of 2,784 suites.

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In 2017, the province listed a total of 8,067 assisted living suites in B.C.

Howard said assisted living facilities have made do for the most part, though a tightness in dollars means health authorities haven’t been able to allocate the resources to close the gap.

On Wednesday, the province announced they would be taking control of the employee contracts in privately-run home support services and rolling them back into Fraser Health, Vancouver Coastal Health and Island Health, which prompted concern for senior care from the BC Care Providers Association.

“What we’ve heard from seniors is that they want more services and longer visit times, and [this] decision does nothing to address this,” BCCPA CEO Daniel Fontaine said.

“Seniors are seeking extra help with their daily needs, such as getting a cup of tea, doing their laundry, or help with medications.”

WATCH: Daniel Fontaine with the BC Care Providers Association talks more about his concerns with the province’s decision

Click to play video: 'Province taking over senior home care'
Province taking over senior home care

Snow said they’re calling on government to take a closer look at the care gap problem.

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“We need the [Ministry of Health] to look at the funding and how it’s applied, not only in one health authority but across all health authorities so that the assisted living programs are funded and applied in a similar way,” Snow said.

The Ministry of Health has not yet returned a request for comment.

— With files from Richard Zussman

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