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

Support pours in for Bowser couple whose home was destroyed by massive blaze

GoFundMe page reached $10,000 in one day for soon-to-be parents

Genre-hopping harpist, singer to perform in Parksville

Musician on a quest to demystify harp playing GZAL on Jan. 24

Councillor has concerns about Qualicum Beach pot shop decision

Debate over location, public consultation and timing continues, though commitment already made

Oceanside RCMP arrest man wanted on several outstanding warrants

Hudson David Klassen, 26, picked up in Parksville

Keep focus on helping Canadians at home, Trudeau tells MPs at start of meeting

Trudeau said the Liberals will offer Canadians hope amid issue like climate change and global tensions

Patriots make 3rd straight Super Bowl, beat Chiefs 37-31 in OT

New England will meet L.A. Rams in NFL title game

Truck convoy honouring Nanaimo boy who died after being struck by vehicle

Trucks left from Victoria and others joined along the way up the Island

Parksville addictions treatment advocate to speak in Port Alberni

Recovering addict Kelly seeks to share more of her story with second event

12 poisoned eagles found in Cowichan Valley

Improper disposal of euthanized animal suspected

Elderly man dead following Union Bay collision

Crash happened Sunday afternoon

Pettersson returns to lead Canucks to 3-2 win over Red Wings

Vancouver’s super rookie has 2 points in first game back after knee injury

Skaters stranded in Saint John, NB, amid storm on last day of championships

More than half of the flights out of the city’s airport were cancelled due to the weather

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi was facing charges related to alleged sexual assault, criminal harassment, assault and forcible confinement of a woman

Most Read