Closure of Acute Care Beds in Fraser Health a Step in Right Direction
Transferring health dollars to community care will improve seniors care
The BC Care Providers Association (BCCPA) supports the Fraser Health Authority’s recent decision to close 80 acute care beds in the region over the coming months. Those funds will be transferred into the community to support a growing number of seniors who require more appropriate care closer to home. A total of 400 new residential care beds are currently in the planning phase or under construction.
“Moving health investments out of acute care facilities and into the community is long overdue and will particularly benefit the frail elderly in the Fraser Valley,” says Daniel Fontaine, CEO for the BCCPA. “While it may seem counter intuitive, the closure of acute care beds can potentially reduce wait times for hip and knee surgeries – as long as those dollars are invested directly back into the community.”
The BCCPA released a report in September 2015 which recommended health authorities throughout the province transfer at least 1% of their acute care budgets per year into community care over the next 5 years. By doing so, this could result in over 4,400 new residential care spaces, 12.8 million care aide hours or 8 million home support hours. Today the BCCPA also published an op-ed titled Let’s Stop Seniors from Languishing in Hospitals along with an infographic on Alternate Level of Care (ALC) beds.
“We’ve known for decades that our population is ageing and the time to move resources to support seniors care is now,” says Fontaine. “I’m hopeful this will pave the way for other health authorities to follow the lead of the Fraser Health Region and realign their priorities in order to produce better health outcomes for seniors.”
According to the Fraser Health Authority:
- The number of seniors living in Fraser Health will increase by more than 50% over the next 10 years.
- Older adults make up 13% of the Fraser Health population yet account for 34% of all hospital admissions.
- Seniors stayed in hospital an average of 12.5 days compared to 5.2 for people younger than 65 years.
“As it stands, 13% of all acute care bed nights in the province are being used by individuals deemed to require an alternate level of care,” says Fontaine. “When an acute care bed costs up to $1,800 per night compared to $200 in the community, it also makes good financial sense to begin the shift.
“It is our hope BC’s Senior’s Advocate will publicly support this shift in resources and immediately encourage other health authorities to follow suit. The evidence is abundantly clear that providing additional residential care and home support services will help to maintain the overall sustainability of BC’s health care system into the future.”