Health Minister Adrian Dix speaks to reporters outside cabinet meeting, Aug. 30, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Action coming on senior care ‘crisis,’ Dix says

Home support hours decline, more burden on families

Unpaid family caregivers are taking more of the burden of seniors care as government home care and day program services decline, B.C. Seniors Advocate says.

Isobel Mackenzie released an update of her 2015 report on home care Wednesday, showing that family caregivers are facing more complex senior care needs such as dementia. With fewer provincially funded hours in home care and adult daycare programs, 29 per cent of unpaid caregivers are experiencing distress such as anger, depression or feelings of not being able to continue providing care.

“This is a disturbing trend on its own when we think of the daily reality for all the sons, daughters, spouses, neighbours and friends who are dedicating hundreds of hours caring for loved ones,” Mackenzie said. “There is even more cause for concern when we look at additional data in this report that indicate the frailty and complexity of those we are caring for at home is actually increasing.”

Health Minister Adrian Dix said Wednesday he considers the situation a “crisis,” and changes to the program have been in the works for some time. Additional funds to home support an daycare programs won’t be reflected in the NDP government’s budget update set for Sept. 11, but will be announced before the first full budget in February, he said.

“Home support, respite care, support in the community and community programs are in some ways the most efficient ways to provide support and quality of life,” Dix said. “That’s a point that [Mackenzie] has been making for some time.”

The report estimates that one million B.C. residents are involved in caring for a senior at home, which is nearly a quarter of the population of the province.

Half of patients cared for at home would fit the criteria for residential care. The report estimates that if all of the seniors cared for at home were in residential care, the cost to the B.C. government would be more than $3 billion a year.

Mackenzie says there is a “disconnect” between what policy makers say about the need to support seniors at home and the diminishing resources being provided as the population ages.

“The data indicate that we’re not putting our money where our mouth is,” Mackenzie said. “Right now the incentives we’re providing are pushing people into residential care.”

Home caregivers have to lift seniors, give them baths and do other functions performed by trained caregivers in residential care. Part of their distress is that they don’t know if they’re concerned they’re giving family members adequate care.

Mackenzie recommends expanding adult day programs beyond weekdays to evenings and weekends, to take some of the burden from family members. A further report is in the works on the need for more home visits, which she says are mostly limited to one hour a day and should be extended to up to four hours a day.

An hour a day is not adequate for a relative who is caring for a senior who can’t be left alone, Mackenzie said. They need to find another volunteer support person to support them, or pay out of pocket so they are able to do their banking, shopping and other daily chores.

BC legislature

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

Just Posted

A case of COVID has been detected within School District 33. (School District 33 photo)
UPDATE: Case of COVID confirmed at a Chilliwack school

Fraser Health has not informed parents but district sent letter to parents Friday

Record-low returns of salmon have been recorded on the Fraser River in recent years. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
Time for Indigenous-led salmon strategy on the Lower Fraser, says Alliance

‘Closures of First Nations, commercial and recreational salmon fishing’ have huge impact: LFFA

The City of Chilliwack says there’s too much spitting going on at the Sardis Sports Complex. (City of Chilliwack photo)
Too much spitting a problem at Chilliwack’s Sardis Sports Complex

The City of Chilliwack is asking the minor hockey community to ease up on expectorating

The number of new COVID-19 cases has risen sharply in Vancouver and the Fraser North region over the last week.
Chart: Tyler Olsen
CHARTS: Weekly COVID-19 case counts continue to rise in Fraser Valley

The number of new COVID-19 cases has risen sharply in Vancouver and the Fraser North region.

The Excelsior 4 are set to make their second court appearance in Abbotsford on Monday (Nov. 2). (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
‘Excelsior 4’ making second Abbotsford court appearance on Monday

Animal rights activists expected to plead not guilty to charges, protest for Vancouver scheduled

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie “The Name of the Rose” at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

Oscar-winner was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000

A Mercedes SUV is covered at a gas station in the Clayton area following a deadly shooting there on Sept. 28, 2019. (File photo)
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Most Read