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Seniors home care needs more workers & shift to no-fee

There are fewer workers to take care of an increasing number of seniors.

bc, seniors advocate
BC Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie releases her latest report, Feb 23, 2023.

Thursday February 23, 2023 | VICTORIA, BC

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

BC Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie today released and commented upon a comprehensive review of the province’s home support services which she finds are in need of fundamental restructuring.

Her findings are presented in a report called “We Must Do Better”. The report and her PowerPoint presentation are available online.

This second review by the Office of the BC Seniors Advocate in five years demonstrates that the program is not keeping pace with the needs of a growing seniors’ population and the service remains unaffordable to a large number of seniors.

isobel mackenzie, seniors, advocate
BC Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie took questions from the media about her latest report, Feb 23, 2023.
  • The report examines 5-year trends in home support funding, hours of care, client acuity, affordability and caregiver distress. Findings reveal that client complexity and frailty is rising, care hours are not growing to meet this need, and more of the care is being shifted to family caregivers who continue to experience high levels of distress.
  • The review includes survey responses from over 6,000 seniors who receive home support and found  people who receive service have high regard for the staff who provide their care and do not feel they are subject to discrimination.

There are fewer workers to take care of an increasing number of seniors requiring home care, said Mackenzie today.

The report also shows that family caregivers who assist elderly family members at home have spent 11% more time doing that in the past five years. However, Mackenzie pointed out that the five-year survey results include the pandemic years (notably 2020 and 2021) when more in-home care would have been needed by seniors.

A long-time advocate for seniors, Mackenzie encourages government to look at the income threshold for providing services at no-cost, or to fully eliminate the cost (as is done in Ontario and Alberta).

More seniors getting care at home will lead to fewer seniors heading into long-term care as a way to find more support, Mackenzie outlined today.

seniors, report, bc
“We Must Do Better” – Home Support Report by the Office of the Seniors Advocate, released Feb 23, 2023.

Key points in the report:

  • The Province spent $693 million on home support in 2021/22, a 42% increase over the last five years.
  • 40,000 B.C. seniors received almost 9 million hours of home support in 2021/22 which is a 6% increase in clients and a 5% increase in hours over the past five years.
  • Overall, 34% of family caregivers in B.C. are in distress and this rises to 57% when looking at clients who are receiving less than an hour per day of home support.
  • A senior with an annual income of $29,000 in B.C. must pay $9,000 a year for a one-hour daily visit of home support. 
  • The majority of provinces do not charge for home support services. B.C. does charge and is the most expensive.
  • 61% of seniors moving into a long-term care facility had no home support 90 days prior to admission, similar to five years ago.
  • B.C.’s rate of newly admitted long-term care residents with low care needs is twice as high as Alberta and Ontario who do not charge for home support and is 34% higher than the national average.
  • It would cost government $14,000 per year to provide one hour of home support per day and $60,000 per year for a long-term care bed for a senior with a $29,000 annual income.
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The report includes five recommendations:

  1. Eliminate the Financial Barrier to Home Support Access
  2. Increase Respite Care
  3. Standardize and set targets for all aspects of service-delivery.
  4. Modernize Care Plans
  5. Measure, Monitor and Report on Performance

Read the full report
Read the news release
Read the PowerPoint

Home Support Survey Results

Home Support Client Survey
Home Support Client Survey results
Home Support Caregiver Survey
Home Support Caregiver Survey results