BCCPA Welcomes Ministry of Health Changes to Assisted Living in British Columbia

BCCPA CEO Daniel Fontaine believes the closure of acute care beds in Fraser Health region is a positive.
BCCPA CEO Daniel Fontaine attended a news conference today where the Ministry of Health announced changes to the Assisted Living Act.

On March 7, 2016 the BC Ministry of Health announced new amendments that will be made to the Community Care and Assisted Living Act (CCALA), which will remove the limit around the number of prescribed services in assisted living to ensure greater flexibility for care providers and improve seniors care by allowing them to remain in their home-like setting and access a variety of care.

At the news conference announcing the changes today in Victoria, the BCCPA was represented by CEO Daniel Fontaine who was alongside Minister of Health Terry Lake, BC Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie and Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors Darryl Plecas.

“We applaud the government for responding to one of the recommendations we made last fall,” says Fontaine. “The move to provide flexibility regarding assisted living is a good first step in responding to the needs of a growing seniors’ population in our province.”

Click here to read Fontaine’s address at today’s news conference in Victoria.

The changes are consistent with the recommendations the BC Care Providers Association (BCCPA) made last year in its report Quality – Innovation – Collaboration: Improving Seniors Care Delivery in BC, for the Ministry to redefine the existing eligibility criteria for complex care and assisted living to allow seniors to remain at home longer or the most appropriate care setting. Likewise, it aligns with the recommendation also proposed by the BC Seniors Advocate to remove restrictions relating to the number of prescribed services (currently two) that may be provided in assisted living.

“This is a very positive move in the direction of increasing choices for seniors as they age,” says Mackenzie. “Assisted living offers independence, while providing care only to the level that is needed by the individual senior. Removing some of the arbitrary barriers that existed under the previous legislation will be welcomed by many seniors.”

mediaconferenceAs outlined in the news release, additional amendments also include increased regulatory oversight for assisted-living residences, particularly permitting the registrar to inspect a residence at any time to determine if there is a risk to the health and safety of a resident. Consultation on regulations will take place over the spring and summer with assisted-living residence operators.

Over the coming months, the BCCPA will continue to work with its members as well as the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders to ensure the legislative and any regulatory changes are implemented appropriately to improve seniors care as well as better ensuring the viability and sustainability of the continuing care sector.

The BCCPA also hopes to work further with the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders including the Seniors Advocate to address the other recommendations outlined in the Quality-Innovation-Collaboration report particularly around the following areas:

  • Shifting resources from away from costlier acute care to home and community care;
  • Development of new care models including the Continuing Care Hub;
  • Better utilizing the existing capacity in the continuing care sector including the creation of a public registry to report on ALC days as well as vacant beds and assisted living units; and
  • Development of a new Continuing Care Collaborative.

Click here to view the CHEK news story on this issue.

Background

Currently assisted living (AL) operators must offer five hospitality services: one to three meals a day plus snacks; light housekeeping once a week; laundering of flat linens once a week; social and recreational opportunities; and a 24-hour emergency response system. They must also provide at least one, and not more than two, of six “prescribed services”, which as outlined in the Community Care and Assisted Living Act include: assistance with activities of daily living (i.e. eating; mobility, dressing, personal hygiene, etc.); medication management; financial management; therapeutic diets; behavioral management and intensive physical rehabilitation therapy.

As outlined under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act registered AL operators must nominate two of six prescribed services that will be offered to residents. The two most commonly prescribed services offered by AL operators are assistance with the activities of daily living, and medication management. If a resident requires one or more of the other four prescribed services, their care will be deemed as too complex for registered AL and a discharge plan will be implemented or, in the case of a senior attempting to move in, the move will not occur.

According to a May 2015 report from the Seniors Advocate BC entitled Seniors Housing in BC: Affordable, Appropriate, Available as of March 2014, BC has about 23,000 AL units including 4,400 that are subsidized while the remaining are private registered (3,200) or private non-registered (15,200).  As also outlined in the Seniors Advocate report it recommends that registered AL be fundamentally redesigned and regulations changed, to allow for a greater range of seniors to be accommodated and age in place as much as possible including palliative care.