Care providers worry not enough staff available for seniors

Head of advocacy group wants more attention paid to seniors’ care industry

Byline: Karl Yu, Nanaimo Bulletin Newspaper

Seniors’ care providers in Nanaimo worry there won’t be enough staff at care homes to meet future demand, B.C. Care Providers Association’s top boss says.

The association represents non-governmental senior community care providers and Daniel Fontaine, CEO, was in Nanaimo Wednesday meeting with workers to discuss challenges. Like other areas of the province, Fontaine said local concerns centre on trying to get staff needed at care homes.

Citing a Statistics Canada report, Fontaine said there are more people over 65 years old than there are under 14 years old in Canada and when you look at projections, more care workers will be needed. Despite offering stable employment, his sector doesn’t get media and political attention that film or high-tech industries receive, he said.

“That’s something I heard loud and clear and asking us as an industry association to try to work with government and health authorities and the media to try to get people interested and excited about working in seniors’ care because we’re just going to need to have more people interested and increase that supply of workers in the future,” said Fontaine.

There are home care staff shortages as well, he said.

The B.C. 2017 election general voting day is Tuesday (May 9) and while Fontaine applauds the three major parties for putting seniors’ care in their platforms, there hasn’t been much discussion during the campaign.

“The fact that it really didn’t get raised as a major issue is a bit surprising, but I know that the Liberals announced, about seven or eight weeks ago, that they’re looking to hire an additional 1,500 care workers in the province over the next four years and that’s been very well received on the front lines,” said Fontaine.

In discussions with nursing staff, Fontaine said it would make a “real, practical difference” with better assistance for getting patients to the bathroom faster and more baths.

“I know that all the political parties have also come out and said that they support moving every care home in the province … up to the 3.36 direct care hours per day and that was well received. I’ve heard very positive feedback in all the roundtables I’ve had,” said Fontaine.

People are pleased that parties are making it an issue, said Fontaine, but there is still much work to do in addressing the complexity of seniors’ care in the coming years.