Home support in B.C. is in crisis. The BC Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) represents thousands of members who work in community health. Our members tell us that the situation is troubling: B.C.’s senior population has increased by four per cent in just the past year, but three out of five health authorities are providing fewer home support hours. This is because the B.C. Liberal government has allowed funding for public home support services to stall. As a result, seniors’ care has been suffering.
The Community Health Services sector and the BCGEU have launched Seniors Deserve Better, a campaign aimed at pressuring the government to increase funding for home support, and making this an important election issue. It’s time to hold the government’s feet to the fire.
“Our members have been saying for years that cuts in funding have forced them to do the same work in less time,” says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. “They are now expected to care for more patients than ever before, in the same work day.”
The facts speak for themselves:
Access to home support services has been declining significantly in B.C. since 2001. Home support clients are likely to be older, with serious health problems, and more complex needs. Access limitations are also destabilizing the health of seniors with moderate care needs who cannot get timely services. These services would keep them healthy and living at home. Some find they can't qualify for home support services until a health crisis puts them in hospital. This is an expensive way to identify a need.
Many of us have aging loved ones. We have first-hand experience with the struggle to gain publicly funded home support for them. We’ve not all succeeded. Where we have, we’ve seen the length of home support visits get shorter and less frequent. On the flipside, the home support caregivers we represent at the BCGEU tell us they’re frustrated because they can’t provide their clients with the level of care they need.
Our members in community health are skilled, professional and committed. They work in the publicly funded health care system, travelling to clients' homes to provide both medical and other support services. A typical work day will see them visiting a number of clients. Community health workers are cost effective. They provide the services that allow seniors and people with disabilities to remain living at home – a much more economical option than hospital or assisted/long-term care. Not to mention that when seniors and people with disabilities live in and are cared for in their own homes, it helps them lead longer, healthier and happier lives.
Be sure your voice is heard!
With the provincial election just months away, we are at an opportune time to make changes. We need you to join our network of people who will push to make funding for home support an election issue. Go to www.seniorsdeservebetter.ca and sign up for updates.
Our campaign work will continue leading up to the election. If you’d like more information or to offer your help get in touch with Holly Reid, BCGEU digital campaigns: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Together, we can make a difference in seniors' lives.
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