The provincial government will spend $500 million over the next four years as part of a Ministry of Health action plan to improve care for seniors across the system, including increasing direct-care hours for seniors in residential care.
“Seniors are an important part of the fabric that makes up our communities, and often some of the most vulnerable,” said Health Minister Terry Lake in a media release Thursday (March 9, 2017).
“This investment helps ensure access to quality services across the continuum of care, from supports in their homes to residential care.”
Over the next four years, year-over-year funding increases from the Ministry of Health will enable each health authority to reach a consistent average of 3.36 direct-care hours per resident day across both publicly administered and contracted residential-care facilities, he said.
The move is included in recommendations from a recent review of residential-care services by Parliamentary Secretary Darryl Plecas, and has been recommended by Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie.
Mackenzie called it “a thoughtful and comprehensive plan.”
The Hospital Employees Union said the announcement is a “significant step towards addressing the growing staffing crisis in residential care.
“Our members are struggling to meet the needs of residents when nine out of 10 care homes are not funded to meet the government’s own staffing guidelines,” said Jennifer Whiteside, secretary-business manager of the 46,000-member Hospital Employees’ Union.
To help meet the increase in hours and to further improve the quality of care, the Liberals will hire about 1,500 more staff. As well, specialized community service programs operated by health authorities will be introduced in communities to support seniors with complex medical conditions.
Ten Million dollars will be provided to the BC Care Providers Association which, along with the Denominational Health Association, will use it to help publicly funded care homes purchase new equipment such as wheelchairs and patient lifts.
Included in the $500 million is $275 million to be provided over the next four years for home- and community-care services as part of the recent health funding agreement with the federal government.
Over and above the $500 million, health authorities also will continue increasing their budgets for home and community care over the next four years, reaching approximately $200 million above current levels by 2020-21.
These investments are made possible through a budget increase to the Ministry of Health under Budget 2017, which provides a total of $4.2 billion in additional funding for the ministry over the next three years.