The BC Care Providers Association (BCCPA) expresses its support for the BC Office of the Seniors Advocate (OSA) report (Report) released earlier today entitled The Journey Begins Together, We Can Do Better. This is the first Report released by OSA since the appointment of Isobel MacKenzie in March 2014 as BC’s first Seniors Advocate.
As outlined in the Report and in the Seniors Advocate Act, the document touches on a number of issues affecting seniors and their quality of life including health services, personal care, transportation, housing and income supports. The Report is based on feedback provided from visiting 26 communities throughout BC outlining a number broad concerns raised by seniors such as having adequate income to meet housing and health needs, lack of adequate transportation, inconsistent home care services, access to residential care, provision of proper dementia care, fragmentation of services, caregiver burnout, elder abuse and ageism.
“If we are going to achieve the transformational change required to support the independence of our growing seniors’ population, it is crucial that we hear from those who are using the current system and that we have a systematic method of measuring improvement, “says Mackenzie. “This is a significant undertaking, and it has not been done on this scale anywhere in Canada. Government and service providers need to see where they stand, and the public deserves to know how well their government and service providers are meeting the needs of the most frail and vulnerable seniors.”
For a full PDF of the report, please click here.
Seniors Advocate To Conduct Independent Client Satisfaction Surveys and Make Them Public
The Report also outlines future indicators that the Office will be reporting on including satisfaction surveys for publicly funded residential care facilities and home support clients, HandyDART services, income supports, elder abuse and dementia care. Other indicators include wait times for rental housing support, subsidized seniors housing and residential care beds. Finally, the document outlines the focus of its first major report to be released dealing with seniors housing.
“Our Association recognizes the challenges facing seniors and supports the future work to be undertaken by the Office of the Seniors Advocate,” says Daniel Fontaine, CEO, BCCPA. “Earlier this summer for example, the BCCPA released the Seniors Care for a Change report outlining key recommendations to help improve BC’s continuing care sector. Its focus included areas such as improved client payment and collection of outstanding debts as well as reducing regulatory burdens.”
In its 2015 budget submission to be released later this month, the BCCPA will also touch on a number of areas outlined in the Seniors Advocate report, including better addressing access and capacity issues in the continuing care sector as well as providing more appropriate support and care for dementia patients.
Although, as outlined in the Report, better reporting and monitoring is critical, it will be important to ensure that such mechanisms do not duplicate existing processes and burden providers unnecessarily. For example, with respect to the development of standardized independent satisfaction surveys for publicly funded residential care facilities as outlined in the Report, similar surveys are already issued to such facilities through Accreditation Canada. This point has been conveyed by the BCCPA in earlier discussions with the Office of the Seniors Advocate. OSA has indicated a willingness to align their efforts with existing surveys conducted as part of the accreditation process. This will help to reduce excess paperwork and red tape for our members.
P.I.E.C.E.S. Training Becomes New Indicator
As also outlined in the Report, residential care facilities will be required to report on the percentage of direct care staff that have been trained in dementia care (i.e. provincial standard of the Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Capabilities, Environment, and Social Self or P.I.E.C.E.S™ program). Although this is a laudable goal, it is important to note that neither the health authorities nor provincial government currently provide funding for P.I.E.C.E.S. to our members. As a result, this could place an increased burden on care providers to secure the necessary funding for this important training.
Finally, as to be outlined by the BCCPA in its 2015 Budget Submission, despite seniors facing increasing levels of acuity and multiple chronic conditions, funding for continuing care is often less than collective agreement or cost of living increases as health authorities rarely recognize inflationary pressures. As a result of these deficiencies, funding shortfalls in the continuing care sector increase year after year hampering the ability of care providers to provide seniors with timely access and quality care. Accordingly, the BCCPA would suggest that the Seniors Advocate recommend that government work with all of the health authorities and care providers to ensure funding matches the cost of delivering complex care to seniors, including for dementia.
In summary, as a leading advocate for seniors and continuing care in BC, the BCCPA is pleased by the findings outlined by OSA. It also looks forward to working with OSA in an attempt to address the concerns outlined in the Report while at the same time reducing any burdens or unnecessary regulations to delivering timely and appropriate care to seniors. The BCCPA also looks forward to the release of the Office’s first major report focusing on housing for seniors including addressing issues such as affordability, appropriateness, accessibility and regulatory constraints.
Health Minister Responds To Seniors Advocate Report
Health Minister Terry Lake issued the following statement in response to the Office of the Seniors Advocate report “The Journey Begins: Together, We Can Do Better”:
“I thank Isobel Mackenzie for this initial report and the work she’s done touring throughout the province to hear the concerns of B.C. seniors and their families during her first six months in office. The preliminary findings contained in her report reflect the broad, varied and complex needs of older residents… Continue reading.