Seniors' Care

Improve and expand publicly funded home support and end for-profit long-term care

The health care system must cover comprehensive care for all stages of life. We need a continuum of care that allows seniors to live independently at home for as long as possible and provides a person-centered model of residential care that respects the dignity and rights of seniors.

Over the past twenty years home support has been devalued and rationed, with access to publicly funded home support consistently declining in BC since 2001. At the same time, for-profit long-term care companies have been pocketing public funds as profits and degrading the standard of care provided in residential care.

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Our Strategy 

We have been intentional in building on the Minister’s mandates by developing goals that “level up” their commitments based on evidence, making vague promises more rigorous and measurable. These goals chart out a path if implemented would have the ability to transform Seniors Care in BC. Scroll down below to read how we are building on the Minister's mandates on home support and long-term care. 

 

Seniors' Care Issues

The BC Government is developing a new standardized funding model for long-term care. This new model could enforce accountability around use of public funds, making LTC less profitable.

A standardized and transparent funding model should:

  1. Require that all contracted long-term care facilities that receive public money clearly report revenues and expenditures to the public and require that all surplus funds be spent on the care of seniors or be returned.
  2. Standardize reporting for direct care hours so that staffing levels and ratios can be independently verified and enforced.
  3. Ensure that all facilities that receive public money are required to be a part of a public sector master collective agreement, and to ban exploitative sub-contracting practices  

Over the past twenty years, funding and access to seniors’ care has been reduced and rationed, while more publicly funded services are being delivered by for-profit companies, often in long term care facilities that combine publicly funded and private-pay beds. As a result, between 2008 and 2017, access to publicly subsidized units fell by 17 per cent. This has resulted in inferior care for seniors over many years, and a fractured system that was already in crisis before the start of the pandemic.

In the 2020 report “A Billion Reasons to Care,” the BC Seniors Advocate found that despite receiving the same level of public funding, for-profit long-term care operators were spending about $10,000 less each year per resident than non-profit operators. Those public funds, which were designated to be used for the care of seniors, were and continue to be pocketed as profits.

Home support services are central to enabling seniors to age in place. These are services provided by community health workers (CHWs) to seniors and those living with disabilities who require assistance with "activities of daily living". 
Older adults nearly unanimously wish to live independently at home as long as possible. Yet access to publicly funded home support has consistently declined in BC since 2001.[2] Without access to these services many seniors experience health decline more rapidly, family caregivers become overextended and costs become prohibitive - pushing seniors to move into Long Term Care earlier than necessary.

Our Goals:
  1. Make home support more accessible by removing the current regulated daily rate co-payment
  2. Address the staffing crisis by increasing the wages of community health workers so they are paid the same no matter where they work, and create stable working conditions by guaranteeing hours
  3. Provide comprehensive care by bringing Instrumental Activities of Daily Living back into the home support program


Background: 

BC is one of the last provinces that still limits access to home support by charging a fee. co-payments represent a significant financial barrier to an essential service. Eliminating co-payments will result in a sharp increase in demand for home support services. Meeting this demand will require public investments but will save taxpayer money overall by reducing the burden on Long Term Care. BC must urgently address the staffing crisis by increasing the wages of community health workers so they are paid the same no matter where they work and create stable working conditions by guaranteeing hours. It is not a coincidence that this workforce is overwhelmingly female, deeply under-compensated and also working precarious positions.

The Seniors Advocate reported in 2019 that Community Health Workers (CHWs) who provide home support services are paid less than care aides with equivalent training who are offering comparable care in other sectors. More than 75% of CHWs are employed in a part-time or casual position. Increasing wages for CHWs to be level with those of care aides working in LTC, as well as guaranteeing hours of work, will stabilize the CHW workforce and support efforts to increase service levels and quality of care.



[1] Office of the Seniors Advocate BC (2019), Home Support: We can do better. https://www.seniorsadvocatebc.ca/app/uploads/sites/4/2019/06/Report-Home-Support-Review_web.pdf

[2] A. Longhurst (2017), Privatization and Declining Access to BC Seniors’ Care: An Urgent Call for Policy Change, Canadian Poilcy Alternatives—BC Office. https://policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/privatization-declining-access-bc-seniors%E2%80%99-care

Seniors' Care Resources