LAST FRIDAY, March 1, the B.C. Ministry of Health announced that seniors in the interior of B.C. would be benefiting from a nearly $5.3-million investment for 2018-19 to increase staffing levels, and to make sure seniors would be able to receive increased care in residential care homes.
The $5.3 million in funding was described as an initial investment in a three-year plan to increase the direct care in the Interior Health Authority (IHA) catchment area, and throughout the province … that to enable reaching a target, or average of, 3.36 care hours daily for each resident, across the province’s health authorities – that goal to be reached by 2021.
In checking with Interior Health, I asked why this was being announced as an initial investment in the three-year program, and if it would not continue on into the future?
My answer to that question, from IHA Communications, was … this is ongoing funding to increase and maintain higher staffing levels.
And according to Adrian Dix, Minister of Health:
“The target of 3.36 had been set in 2008. In 2017, less than 3 in 20 care homes met the standard, including virtually all the publicly funded beds in private and non-profit care homes. For seniors, this meant below-standard care, fewer baths and a lower quality of life than our parents and grandparents deserve.”
He went on to state, “Our government is committed to delivering on approximately 156,000 more direct-care hours to be provided in Interior Health this fiscal year alone. This increase in care hours means seniors will receive more help with dressing, bathing, eating or taking part in social activities.”
So just how many care homes are there in the region covered by IHA:
“In Interior Health there are 38 private care homes with 3,196 publicly-funded long-term care beds. Interior Health owns and operates 39 care homes with 2,454 publicly-funded beds,” I was told.
Many, like me, may now be wondering if the Ministry of Health, or IHA, would hiring additional staff to provide the increased care … and specifically if that would extend private care facilities?
According to IHA,
“Each site will determine how it is adjusting its hours based on increased funding – this could be through hiring additional care aides, increasing hours of part-time and casual staff, adjusting schedules or a combination of all of these”.
They then went on to state:
“The initial investment in more staff was for the private facilities as the average hours per day before this new funding was at about 3.15. The additional investment brings funding for private home staffing on average up to 3.29 hours per day as we move towards the Ministry target of 3.36.”
Right now, Interior Health-owned and operated care homes are currently providing an average of 3.33 hours per day. And while private operators would be better able to speak to their specific plans, I was told that IHA’s priority is to ensure the hours meet the new targets.
“People living in residential care expect to receive the best day-to-day support possible, and this investment is vital to delivering on the Province’s promise to improve supports for patients outside of hospital,” said Anne Kang, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors. “This funding will help improve the lives of people living in residential care, while supporting the hardworking staff in these facilities.”
“Staff at residential care homes work incredibly hard and care a great deal for the seniors they see every day. These investments are more than just numbers — they’re supporting people,” added Kang.
Our parents and grand-parents deserve the best care possible, and so I applaud the government in the steps being taken to increase the time being provided.
While an increase of 20 minutes a day might not seem like a lot to us, for those in senior’s care homes around the province, and here in Kamloops where I live, that time could make all the difference in helping them continue feeling like a valued member of society.
It won’t be just the extra bath or help with eating …. the time to share a laugh and a smile, or a few minutes of conversation, will also be invaluable.
I’m Alan Forseth in Kamloops, and those are my thoughts. I’d love to hear what you might have to say so feel free to use the Comments Section below.
Alan Forseth is a Kamloops resident and former member of the Reform Party of Canada and the B.C. Reform Party, and a past and current member of the BC Conservative Party. His blog is My Thoughts on Politics and More.