(from BC Seniors Advocate) In this report, BC Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie provides a comprehensive review of the province’s home support services and finds they are in need of fundamental restructuring. This second review demonstrates that the program is not keeping pace with the needs of a growing seniors’ population and the service remains unaffordable to a large number of seniors.
The report examines 5-year trends in home support funding, hours of care, client acuity, affordability and caregiver distress. Findings reveal that client complexity and frailty is rising, care hours are not growing to meet this need, and more of the care is being shifted to family caregivers who continue to experience high levels of distress. The review includes survey responses from over 6,000 seniors who receive home support and found people who receive service have high regard for the staff who provide their care and do not feel they are subject to discrimination.
Key points include:
- The Province spent $693 million on home support in 2021/22, a 42% increase over the last five years.
- 40,000 B.C. seniors received almost 9 million hours of home support in 2021/22 which is a 6% increase in clients and a 5% increase in hours over the past five years.
- Overall, 34% of family caregivers in B.C. are in distress and this rises to 57% when looking at clients who are receiving less than an hour per day of home support.
- A senior with an annual income of $29,000 in B.C. must pay $9,000 a year for a one-hour daily visit of home support.
- The majority of provinces do not charge for home support services. B.C. does charge and is the most expensive.
- 61% of seniors moving into a long-term care facility had no home support 90 days prior to admission, similar to five years ago.
- B.C.’s rate of newly admitted long-term care residents with low care needs is twice as high as Alberta and Ontario who do not charge for home support and is 34% higher than the national average.
- It would cost government $14,000 per year to provide one hour of home support per day and $60,000 per year for a long-term care bed for a senior with a $29,000 annual income.
The report includes five recommendations:
- Eliminate the Financial Barrier to Home Support Access
- Increase Respite Care
- Standardize and set targets for all aspects of service-delivery.
- Modernize Care Plans
- Measure, Monitor and Report on Performance