Vancouver Island, Okanagan and Kootenays have the highest proportion of seniors. (Seniors Advocate)

Home care declines as B.C. senior population grows, advocate says

More deferring property tax, using rent subsidy to stay at home

Keeping frail seniors at home has been a priority of B.C. health ministers for years, but delivery of home care and day activity programs to support that declined in 2018, B.C.’s Seniors Advocate says.

The number of seniors receiving home support services decreased by 1.4 per cent, despite a four per cent increase in the B.C. population over 65 and a five per cent increase in those over 85, according to the latest senior services monitoring report, released Wednesday.

Adult day program access also declined by six per cent in 2018, adding up to a 17 per cent drop in program days delivered in the past two years. “Not surprisingly, there is a 23 per cent increase in the wait list,” the report says.

“The ability to live as independently as possible for as long as possible depends on a number of key factors,” Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie said. “Appropriate housing, sufficient income, adequate transportation, accessible health care and assistance with personal needs must all be available if seniors are to live safely and with dignity.”

Health Minister Adrian Dix added $75 million to the budget for respite care and adult day programs last year, in an effort to ease the pressure on family members supporting seniors in their homes.

“The reduction in home support clients is puzzling, as we should be seeing those numbers increase,” Mackenzie said.

RELATED: Still too many seniors in care facilities, on drugs

RELATED: B.C. making progress on care home staffing, Dix says

Rising housing costs have also made it more difficult for seniors to remain at home. Property tax deferrals have risen by 53 per cent in the past four years, with more than 57,000 seniors deferring taxes in 2017-18 and more than $200 million in property taxes paid to municipalities by the province to date.

For seniors who rent, there was a seven per cent increase in use of rent subsidies through the Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters program, and a 34 per cent increase in the total subsidies paid.

For seniors who need residential care, the average waiting time has improved, with 71 per cent getting admitted to a care facility within 30 days. But the rate varies between regional health authorities, with a low of 45 per cent for Island Health and a high of 90 per cent for the Vancouver Coastal health region.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Question Answers with Fraser-Cascade 2019 byelection candidates

Seven candidates have stepped forward for this year’s sudden byelection—learn about them here

Sunshine Valley teens burning with promise

Possibly the youngest in B.C., Sunshine Valley trains 15- and 16-year-old firefighters

Figures reveal spike in highway traffic jams between Abbotsford and Langley

Nearly one in 20 westbound vehicles between Abbotsford and Langley clocked at under 60 km/h

Taser takedown in Chilliwack complex after incident gets violent

Male suspect became agitated under questioning and repeatedly punched an officer

Hang gliding video gives stunning view of Harrison and Fraser river confluence

Aerial view shows striking difference between two rivers as they meet

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

RCMP say a body discovered nearby not one of the missing teens

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

The federal government apologized in 1988 for its racism against ‘enemy aliens’

B.C. VIEWS: NDP pushes ahead with Crown forest redistribution

This isn’t the time for a radical Indigenous rights agenda

Two dead in two-vehicle crash between Revelstoke and Golden

RCMP are investigating the cause of the crash

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Most Read