Media Wrap Up: Staffing and funding issues in long-term care

This week, premiers gather in Victoria to demand more healthcare funding from the federal government due to the various challenges in provincial healthcare. Of the many healthcare areas, long-term care (LTC) continues to face challenges in the demographic shift and staffing shortages, with the latter highlighted in the recent UBC report offering various pandemic recommendations. While the provincial government has implemented some of the stated recommendations, there are still constraints due to lack of funding.

BC Care Providers Association and EngAge BC CEO Terry Lake spoke with various media outlets like the Vancouver Sun, CKNW and CFAX 1070 to discuss the need for more funding to address staffing issues and to ensure that LTC homes have proper resources.

“It’s not unusual that the government deflects issues that are not on the forefront,” says Lake in his interview with Jas Johal on CKNW, “but the pandemic shown that we need to be thinking about seniors care and the aging demographic.”

Addressing issues in health human resources will require more government funding. While there have been positive steps to address staffing shortages, like the recently developed Health Career Access Program, he notes that there is still a long journey ahead. “We simply don’t have enough people working in LTC,” says Lake, “there’s a ripple effect of people waiting for a bed in hospitals for days or weeks at a time.”

Lake also mentions that in the Interior, 300 beds remain closed because there are not enough staff to open them safely. As a result, hospitals are overwhelmed because people have nowhere to go in the community. “We have to look and find innovative ways of adjusting the staffing mix to safely open those beds,” explains Lake in his interview with Al Ferraby on CFAX 1070, “let’s create a staffing mix that reflects reality until we have […] highly trained people needed to staff people at the higher level.”

In regard to the aging demographic, Lake says that “at some point, many are going to need long-term care because their conditions become too complex to manage at home. He states that “we need a huge investment in seniors care – both to support seniors at home and to open up new LTC beds,” adding that “we need the federal government to […] make targeted investments in seniors care if we’re going to face this huge demographic wave coming at us.”

Although the federal government has spent more than $72 billion on healthcare since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, with $3 billion allocated for LTC, many including Lake believe that is not enough.

“The aging of the population across the country is irrefutable… so it makes sense that the federal government step up with more money for healthcare.”