Report highlights need to provide greater supports to unpaid caregivers in seniors’ care - BCGEU

The B.C. Government & Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) commends the report released today by the Office of the Seniors Advocate, Caregivers in Distress: A Growing Problem. This report highlights a worrying trend of increased distress among unpaid caregivers, and makes recommendations to provide them with greater supports as the needs of B.C.'s aging population become increasingly complex.

The BCGEU supports many of the recommendations in the report such as increasing adult day program access, increasing home support, as well as improving access to and streamlining the Choice in Supports for Independent Living program for those seniors with the ability to direct their own care.

 "This thoughtful and detailed report takes up the task of shining a light on the critical work of unpaid caregivers, and the challenges they are facing," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "Fortunately, B.C. has a large pool of Community Health Workers (CHWs) available with the skills and training necessary to support these caregivers, and enable the seniors' care sector to function more optimally."

BCGEU members working in long-term care have long spoken out about a range of problems affecting their ability to deliver quality care to seniors and how more support to informal caregivers would improve overall outcomes.

Support at the early stages of caregiving for example is critical and home support workers have the ability to offer assistance and training in personal care, lifts and transfers, and monitoring health status – empowering caregivers with the confidence and skills they need to provide appropriate support. Respite care, also provided by a trained CHW, ensures peace of mind for the caregiver taking a break, enabling them to relieve stress and to strengthen their ability to be a caregiver.

"The report's emphasis on system-wide strategies speaks to the ability of paid and unpaid caregivers to reinforce each other's efforts if adequately supported," says Smith. "We hope the provincial government will take a similarly systemic approach as it plans new programs to benefit seniors and provide them with dignified quality care."

The BCGEU represents over 16,000 workers in various health care sectors.

For more information please contact Bronwen Barnett, BCGEU Communications, 604-719-4713.


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