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.

BC legislatureSeniors

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

WATCH: Yale firefighters fight late night cabin fire in Spuzzum

Neighbours started fighting fire until crews arrived an hour later

Chilliwack youth planning solidarity march against racism

Organizer hoping to ‘create a type of a energy in the city that we will not be silent about racism’

Fraser River freshet peak is coming soon

Predictions for 2020 by River Forecast Centre has the freshet peak at the Mission gauge for June 4-5

Virtual public hearing set for developer with plans to subdivide Willow Street lot

People can submit comments in advance, or call to be added to a speakers list, ahead of June 3rd hearing

Cyclist in his 50s victim of fatal crash near Hope Thursday

Police have ruled out speed, impairment as factors after a tractor-trailer struck a man in his 50s

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

B.C.’s Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics goes virtual

The annual event partnering RCMP with Special Olympians is dramatically altered by COVID-19

Bateman program encourages people to sketch outside, connect with nature

#MyNatureSketch initiative encourages Canadians to become ‘bright-eyed three year olds’

Be cautious expanding COVID-19 bubble, Dr. Bonnie Henry tells B.C.

Senior homes stay off-limits as schools, businesses reopen

VIDEO: Yarrow’s Corwin Drew in final four of Vancouver Whitecaps Academy skills competition

The soccer star is looking for community support to get him through the next round of online voting

Most Read