B.C. government announces $6.4M for residential care home workers

Nanaimo and Parksville among Island communities to benefit

The B.C. government has announced it will spend more than $6.4 million to add senior residential care home workers, which will affect seniors in Nanaimo and Parksville.

Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health, was at Eden Gardens in Nanaimo on Wednesday, when he announced a three-year plan to increase direct care seniors receive at residential care homes on Vancouver Island and across B.C. to 3.36 care hours per-resident day on average by 2021.

Dix said the province recognizes the need for improved seniors care and increased staffing levels.

“We need more people to become care aids and LPNs and nurses and work in seniors care,” he said, adding “There will be more seniors in 20 years and of course the aging of the overall population means there is an aging of the overall care-giving population. So, we need to replace all of our current care staff and then we need to add 15,000 people.”

Dix said the additional staff will not only improve care for seniors, but it will also benefit existing care workers.

“When you have more staff … it means less injury and higher quality of work for the people doing the work and a greater desire to do the work. So, we are delivering the hours,” he said.

The investment in care hours on Vancouver Island is part of the $48 million being allocated to health authorities in 2018-19 to fund more than one million more hours of direct care. The funding is also part of an announcement made earlier this year by the government, which has committed $240 million over three years to increase the amount of direct care seniors receive.

“That is in fact happening,” Dix said. “In Nanaimo and in Parksville that is $2 million directly. Six residential care homes in Nanaimo and two homes in Parksville. This includes Eden Gardens where we are today.”

In 2016, the average direct-care hours in British Columbia was 3.11 per resident day. Dix said more than 90 per cent of care homes in the province failed to meet the care standards set by the provincial government, adding that it is unacceptable.

“We set a care standard, we should meet a care standard,” he said.

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