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Retirement Concepts fails to protect vulnerable seniors - BCGEU

The Globe and Mail published a story Monday highlighting the chronic understaffing issues at Retirement Concepts seniors' care facilities on Vancouver Island: Care for seniors suffered as Retirement Concepts battled labour shortage with hires not checked for required training

A severe labour shortage at Retirement Concepts has seriously undermined the delivery of care as numerous operational deficiencies were identified by health authority licensing officers while investigating the facilities. While Retirement Concepts blames a shortage of workers for these issues, our union has been voicing the real problems which include excessive workload, understaffing, excessive overtime due to understaffing, low pay compared to other health care facilities, increased injury rates and WCB claims (both physical and psychological) contributing to further staff shortages, and housekeeping and servers being paid minimum wage, to name a few.

Despite the growing concerns at these facilities, Retirement Concepts continues to fail to address these issues and provide a quality work environment to recruit and retain the staff needed to provide an adequate level of care. Retirement Concepts can't successfully retain its staff because it pays much less than other facilities in the area. Consequently, health care workers are leaving their lower-paid positions at Retirement Concepts for better paid jobs at other facilities.

Our union has been raising these issues with the provincial health ministry for years, recommending strategies to ensure government can protect vulnerable seniors by using its authority to protect the delivery of care across these publicly funded facilities. The BCGEU has encouraged B.C.'s Health Minister Adrian Dix to act decisively to protect vulnerable seniors before they are adversely affected.

BCGEU represents approximately 200 members at Comox Valley Seniors Village in the complex care and assisted living sections, and approximately 58 members in the assisted living section of Nanaimo Seniors Village.