The Office of the Seniors Advocate has released its findings in its second annual Monitoring Seniors’ Services report. The report tracks trends in various areas including residential care wait times, home support hours and seniors’ housing.
“We applaud the work of the Office of the Seniors Advocate in gathering this important information,” says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. “These statistics confirm what we’ve already been hearing from our members: that wait times for residential care are getting longer, and that the number of home support clients has increased, but the hours of service are decreasing. This is particularly alarming considering that in Canada, seniors make up the fastest-growing age demographic.”
There are approximately 853,000 seniors living in B.C., which accounts for 18 per cent of the province’s population. Since 2006, the proportion of B.C. residents aged 65 and over has increased by 28 per cent. Now, more than ever, the provincial government needs to address the growing number of challenges facing seniors in this province.
According to the report:
- In 2015/16, on a provincial level, the average home support hours delivered per year per client decreased by approximately two per cent from the previous year, while the number of clients increased by two per cent.
- Average and median wait times for residential care grew longer in three of five regional health authorities. The proportion of residents admitted to residential care within the target window of 30 days decreased from 64 per cent in 2014/15 to 57 per cent in 2015/16.
- The number of residential care beds has increased three point five per cent since 2012, while the number of seniors aged 85 and older has increased 21 per cent over the same time period.
- 16 per cent of residential care facilities had no reported inspection in the last year.
- In 2015/16, there were 168 reported incidents of financial, physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse or neglect in B.C. residential care facilities, up from 121 incidents the previous year.
The report also indicates that the average hours of home support per client per week decreased in four out of five health authorities – this is unacceptable as our seniors’ population increases. Home support is the most cost-efficient way of caring for seniors, that’s why we are calling on the government to increase funding for home support with our Seniors Deserve Better campaign.
According to the report, the number of residential care beds has not grown in the past year, while the population of seniors has increased by over four per cent. In fact, the number of seniors aged 85 and older has increased almost six times as much as the number of residential care beds. This doesn’t make sense. Residential care needs to at least keep pace with the population growth.
Time to hold the government accountable
The findings in the report demonstrate that the BC Liberal government does not prioritize seniors in our province. We need to call on the provincial government to support our aging population -- they are failing to put in the appropriate supports that will keep seniors healthier longer or keep them at home as long as possible. Our seniors deserve better.
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