The Province is investing $500 million over the next four years as part of a Ministry of Health action plan to improve care for seniors across the system, including increasing direct-care hours for seniors in residential care.
“Seniors are an important part of the fabric that makes up our communities, and often some of the most vulnerable,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “This investment helps ensure access to quality services across the continuum of care, from supports in their homes to residential care. No matter how complex a person’s needs are, we want to ensure they get the most appropriate care that best enhances their quality of life.”
Over the next four years, year-over-year funding increases from the Ministry of Health will enable each health authority to reach a consistent average of 3.36 direct-care hours per resident day across both publicly administered and contracted residential-care facilities. This was a key recommendation of a recent review of residential-care services by Parliamentary Secretary Darryl Plecas, and has been recommended by Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie
“We learned a great deal through the review of residential-care services in B.C., and identified where more work needs to be done to improve care for seniors,” said Plecas. “I am confident that in moving forward with this fully funded action plan for seniors, we will help our province to meet current and future needs for seniors care services, including residential care, and improve the lives of seniors living in our province.”
“This is a thoughtful and comprehensive plan that recognizes the diversity of seniors, the reality of current human resource challenges and the requirement for accountability,” said Mackenzie. “Family members and front line staff are more fully supported to provide better care for their loved ones and residents as a result of this meaningful investment.”
To help meet the increase in hours and to further improve the quality of care, the Province plans to work with the health authorities and industry to hire about 1,500 additional staff, an estimate based on a 2009 provincial staffing framework, including health-care assistants, nurses, occupational therapists and physiotherapists. In addition, specialized community service programs operated by health authorities will be introduced in communities throughout the province to help proactively support the health of seniors with complex medical conditions such as frailty, dementia, multiple chronic illnesses or end-of-life care needs.
The Province will spearhead a number of other measures to improve supports for seniors, such as additional home-support services and hours and increased home-health monitoring. As well, the Province is providing $10 million to the BC Care Providers Association which, along with the Denominational Health Association will use the funding to assist publicly funded care homes purchase new equipment that improves the quality of life and safety of residents. This may include equipment like wheelchairs and patient lifts to help people with limited mobility, and falls prevention equipment like hand rails and alarms for beds to protect seniors at high risk of injury from a fall.
“We are elated that the B.C. government is responding to calls from the province’s seniors' care providers, and will implement a large number of BCCPA’s recommendations to help strengthen seniors care delivery in British Columbia,” said Daniel Fontaine, CEO BC Care Providers Association. “By making these significant investments in home and community care, B.C. seniors and their families can have greater confidence that the right care will be there, at the right time, and in the right place.”
To better protect some of the most vulnerable seniors, government will also bring into force by April 2018 part three of the Health Care (Consent) and Care Facility (Admission) Act, as recommended by B.C.’s ombudsperson. This legislation will require health authority staff and care facility operators to get consent for admission to a facility, including extending protections for adults who may not have the capacity to make such decisions. Under part three, if a person is assessed as incapable of consent, then a personal guardian or substitute decision-maker (usually a family member or close personal friend) would have to give consent on the person’s behalf. If no one is available or qualifies, then the public guardian and trustee may appoint someone, including one of their staff. Substitute decision-makers must act in the person’s best interests – consulting with the person and their family, and considering previously expressed wishes – to determine whether admission to the residential-care facility would be beneficial.
Included in the $500 million is $275 million to be provided over the next four years for home- and community-care services as part of the recent health funding agreement with the federal government. Over and above the $500 million, health authorities also will continue increasing their budgets for home and community care over the next four years, reaching approximately $200 million above current levels by 2020-21. These investments are made possible through a budget increase to the Ministry of Health under Budget 2017, which provides a total of $4.2 billion in additional funding for the ministry over the next three years.
- Over $2.9 billion was invested in home and community care in 2016 throughout the province, an increase of over $1.3 billion from 2001.
- There are 27,700 residential-care beds and 4,468 assisted-living beds in B.C., an increase of almost 6,900 seniors-care beds since 2001.
Action Plan to Strengthen Home and Community Care for Seniors: http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/library/publications/year/2017/home-and-community-care-action-plan.pdf
Residential Care Staffing Review: http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/library/publications/year/2017/residential-care-staffing-review.pdf
To learn more about the resources available for seniors, please visit: www.SeniorsBC.ca
A backgrounder follows.