April 12th, 2024

B.C.’s seniors advocate blames long-term care waits on lack of home support

By The Canadian Press on March 14, 2024.

British Columbia's seniors advocate says an increasing unmet demand for home support services and lack of new long-term care spots for a growing population, are likely to blame for the ballooning wait-list to get a bed. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie is photographed at her office in Victoria, B.C., Friday, Dec. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

VICTORIA – British Columbia’s seniors advocate says the increasing unmet demand for home support services is likely to blame for a ballooning wait-list to get a bed in long-term care, with the problem worsened by population growth.

In her final report as advocate, Isobel Mackenzie says while the availability of some home and community care services has increased over the past five years, it hasn’t been enough, and the rate of services relative to the population has fallen

Her report says the rate of home support clients per 1,000 of seniors aged 75 or older has decreased seven per cent over the past five years, and the average hours of support per client has decreased four per cent.

In Mackenzie’s final report before she leaves her position this month, she says subsidies for the one in five seniors who rent have fallen “dramatically short” of what they need to continue living in their own homes and meet their basic needs.

She says there are “concerning trends” of abuse, neglect and property crime against seniors that likely warrant discussions with law enforcement on how to better support them

Seniors represent 20 per cent of the provincial population, the report says, compared with 18 per cent in 2018 and 16 per cent in 2013.

Mackenzie warns that there are “fault lines” appearing in other areas of support including transportation and adult day programs.

She says they’ll need to be monitored to see if the current decrease in services is a residual impact from the pandemic or a longer-term trend.

“Overall, the report highlights the growing challenge facing the federal and provincial governments as our population ages,” the report says.

“The cost of providing the same level of support and services is also rising as inflation impacts labour rates. Costing more to do the same is bad enough, but we have layered on the need to also provide services to more people, creating gaps that grow each year.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 14, 2024.

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