CCPA Report misrepresents state of B.C. seniors care

Regardless of ownership, all B.C. providers of seniors care must meet stringent standards and regulations in delivering quality care

BCCPA is setting the record straight after a report critical of the involvement of private care providers was issued by the Canadian Centre of Policy Alternatives (CCPA). On several items CCPA mischaracterized critical aspects of B.C.’s home and community care sector, which we fact check below.

CCPA SAYS: Their report titled “Privatization and Declining Access to BC Seniors’ Care: An Urgent Call for Policy Change” – which was produced thanks to a financial contribution of the Hospital Employees Union – has as its number one recommendation to end privatization in the home and community care sector.

FACT CHECK: In British Columbia, approximately seventy percent of residential care beds are provided by private operators. Eliminating them from the delivery model as being proposed by some groups would be massively disruptive for thousands of B.C. seniors and their loved ones. The availability of private (either non-profit or for-profit) care providers have resulted in thousands of new subsidized beds being available for elderly British Columbians.

CCPA SAYS: “The evidence is clear: home and community care privatization has severely eroded access to affordable, high-quality services in communities across BC.”

FACT CHECK: Studies cited in the report to make the misleading claim about “erosion” of quality care were based largely on studies from other countries such as the United States and United Kingdom, not British Columbia. Furthermore, when the Office of the B.C. Ombudsperson conducted an extensive study on the delivery of seniors care in our province, and presented 176 recommendations, not one of those recommendations suggested curtailing the involvement of private providers in the delivery of care. In addition, a 2014/2015 survey of families conducted by the Health Quality Council Alberta, when asking about ownership type stated, “In general, no one model type was better or worse than the others across all key measures of family experience measured in the survey.”

CCPA SAYS: The weight of the Canadian and international research evidence shows that for-profit residential care is inferior to care delivered in public or non-profit facilities. Furthermore, the report’s author claimed in an interview, “When you run it for profits as a for profit business, that profit is going into investors’ pockets rather than going into front line care.”

FACT CHECK: There is no evidence of significant differences of care being delivered in private for-profit care homes compared to that of non-profit or government owned and operated care. All care providers, whether public, private or voluntary, are required to meet stringent standards and regulations. In the case of all contracted care providers, regardless of the nature of their ownership, they are obligated to provide the level of care or direct care hours set by the Health Authority. Contracted care providers are frequently funded to provide fewer direct care hours than their government owned and operated counterparts.

CCPA SAYS: Their second recommendation is to “improve access to publicly funded home and community care provided by health authorities and non-profit organizations.”

FACT CHECK: On this goal we are generally aligned with the CCPA, but we would also include stronger support for private for-profit care providers. When the B.C. government recently announced an additional $500 million in new investments in seniors care, the BC Care Providers Association stood by Minister of Health Terry Lake at the announcement. It was the most significant new commitment to the delivery of seniors care in over a decade, and we will work diligently to see that those investments go where the additional care is most needed.

CCPA SAYS: Seniors with dementia are being cared for in hospitals that often aren’t equipped to deal with their complex needs. They’re in hospitals because other, less expensive services such as home and community care aren’t available.

FACT CHECK: Once again, we are in full agreement with CCPA that more resources are needed to provide more appropriate home and community care. Few organizations have been as vocal as BCCPA in advocating for a modest and achievable shift of resources from acute care toward community care. BCCPA is advocating to reduce ALC days, including a recommendation of 5 percent target by 2021.

CCPA SAYS: The final recommendation says “Develop a home and community care framework and action plan to improve access and service integration, and establish legislated minimum standards, including staffing levels, consistent with the research evidence.”

FACT CHECK: On this recommendation, there has already been significant progress. On March 9th, the B.C. government issued an Action Plan to Strengthen Home and Community Care for Seniors (referred to as the “Plecas Plan” after Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors Dr. Darryl Plecas) that will address those issues and many others over the course of the next 12 to 18 months.

Conclusion

Private home and residential care providers play a vital role in their communities across B.C., offering employees exceptional pay and benefits, and comfort to thousands of seniors requiring continuing care. They also make significant investments into continuing care operations, and offer operational efficiency and creativity that help lead to a sustainable industry.

Our goal for the whole seniors care sector here in B.C. should be to keep focused on health outcomes and the delivery of quality care to the benefit of our elderly population and their loved ones, rather than weighing into an ideological debate on who the operator should be.

Radio Interview

Listen to our CEO Daniel Fontaine discuss the CCPA report on Roundhouse Radio with host Kirk LaPointe.