BC’s Seniors’ Advocate is out with the second annual look at how the province is doing taking care of the oldest members of society – and what areas need the most attention
Isobel MacKenzie says it’s troubling to see wait times for those needing residential care increase, along with complaints from those in care homes.
At the same time, she says, home care services are not where they should be.
“Ironically in policy B.C. has the best home support program in the country – 120 hours a month – in policy. What we find in practice is, in fact, those hours aren’t being delivered,” she says.
She says wait lists for seniors subsidized housing are also growing.
And she says B.C. is failing to live up to its promise on home care, one she says leads the country on paper but not in practice.
“We’re not utilising home support to the extent that we should and here’s the evidence to support that, we have people in residential care who don’t need to be there. We’re seeing intensity of the service reduce,” she says.
But it’s not all bad news.
MacKenzie says 92 per cent of seniors have regular physicians, there was a jump of 16 per cent in seniors making use of B.C.’s property tax deferment program, and that the number of unfilled HandyDART ride requests has dropped.
She adds the number of people with dementia is not increasing – though the number seeking out support is.
B.C. health critic is ‘unimpressed’
But B.C. health critic Judy Darcy says the government is not doing enough to help seniors in the province live longer in their own homes.
She says seniors are being hit by high rents and says the government’s home support program is inadequate – forcing many elderly out of their homes and into residential care facilities.
Darcy says she is “unimpressed” with the latest issued report.
“I think this report that’s been issued by the seniors advocate for BC paints a really deplorable picture of this government’s priorities. They are not investing in our vulnerable seniors, in enough residential care beds, in-home support, so seniors can live independently longer, and there is a major affordable housing crisis.”
There are currently about 27,000 seniors living in 292 publicly funded residential care facilities throughout B.C.
With files from Trevor Knapp