By Linda Forsythe , current Board member of COSCO (excerpt from COSCO Newsletter (March 2023)

For anyone looking to get some help with daily living, the first considerations are, Where can I get good quality help? and What is it going to cost me? Seniors have said repeatedly that we want to live in community where we have family, friends and activities close by.

The Seniors’ Advocate, Isobel Mackenzie, has just released a sobering report on home support services in BC. In general, she calls for a comprehensive review and a fundamental restructuring of home support services. Specifically, she makes five key recommendations.

  • The government must eliminate the financial and other barriers to home support.
  • It must increase respite care for home caregivers (family).
  • It must standardize and set targets for all aspects of service delivery.
  • It must modernize care plans.
  • And finally, it must measure, monitor and report on performance of this service.

Other key points: In 2021/22 the province paid $693 million in Home Support Services. Of family members who provide free support,34% are in distress. This increases to 57% for families getting one hour or less of home support. Worryingly, 61% of seniors moving into Long Term Care facilities had no home support 90 days prior to admission.

BC’s rate of newly admitted Long Term Care residents with low care needs is twice as high as Alberta and Ontario. Both these provinces provide home support at no charge to the recipient while BC implements onerous charges once a threshold income is reached. And finally, Long Term Care costs the government more to provide than Home Support Services. Clearly, we have a problem when the government ignores the needs of a large and growing population of seniors in the province.

Please contact your MLA’s office and have a discussion with them.  The report is extensive and can be found online at: must-do-better-home-support-services-for-b-c-seniors/ Those wishing a hard copy of this report can call the Seniors Advocate office at 1-877-952-3181 (toll -free) and it will be mailed to you.

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