wheelchairIn November 2014, Assistant Deputy Minister for the BC Ministry of Health, Doug Hughes participated in a BCCPA Board of Directors meeting to foster better two way dialogue between the Ministry of Health and our sector.

During that meeting, one of the topics of discussion was the issue of wheelchairs and chargeable extras. The BCCPA board and staff conveyed our concerns and provided critical feedback to Mr. Hughes regarding any possible changes to the current policy.

Hughes indicated that the Ministry was considering making a “basic wheelchair” an entitlement for everyone living in residential care homes in BC. Currently, this is not the case. However, non-specialized wheelchairs are often made available by our members at no or low cost to residents upon their admission. This has normally been viewed as a temporary measure until a more permanent solution can be implemented.

We anticipate that a new Ministry of Health policy mandating care providers to supply free wheelchairs for those assessed as needing it will be in place this spring. Anyone needing a specialized wheelchair will be required to fund it through their own personal means – unless they lack the personal resources to do so.

As many front-line staff will attest, most elderly residents are not meant to be in “airport-style” wheelchairs for any great length of time. That’s why it is often recommended by medical professionals that the resident purchase as specialized wheelchair built specifically for their needs.


The implementation of this new policy will have significant impact on some of our member operations. A number of issues such as increased storage, maintenance and cleaning costs, red tape, liability have been raised.

The BCCPA will continue to work with the Ministry to ensure that the implementation of any new policy is fully funded by the Health Authorities and that it enhances the delivery of high quality seniors care.

UPDATE April 23, 2015 @ 11:00 am – The Ministry of Health and the Health Authorities have begun communicating a new policy which they have developed regarding the use of “basic” wheelchairs. The BCCPA has received a number of calls/emails expressing their concern that the new policy will have financial impacts and there is no clarity on whether they will be reimbursed. The BCCPA will be meeting with the Ministry of Health on Friday, April 24th to discuss this issue. We will report out more in “The Insider” once we have additional details.

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