B.C. seniors' population to double by 2030

The number of seniors living in B.C. is expected to double by the year 2030 and experts are concerned about how the burgeoning numbers will be properly cared for and accommodated in coming decades.

CBC News, Business in Vancouver series looks at business of seniors' care

The number of seniors living in B.C. is climbing steeply and experts are concerned about how the burgeoning numbers will be cared for and accommodated in coming decades.

Today, the province is home to about 678,000 people 65 and over. By 2020, that number is expected to grow to 984,000, and by 2036 there will be nearly 1.5 million seniors in B.C.

That means the need for all levels of care will increase and the private and non-profit sectors are already jumping at the opportunity.

Researchers say the choice provided by most private care operators is good, but there are concerns about quality control.

"In my opinion, it has to be closely monitored," said Habib Chaudhury, a specialist in environmental gerontology at Simon Fraser University. "We need to look at the resident outcomes and quality-of-care measures to really make an informed judgement."

Chaudhury said the government needs to prepare for the future and build more facilities, and he said the "campus of care" model is the best way to go.

The campus of care model offers a mix of independent living, assisted living and residential care in the same building or building complex.

The model is seen to be easier on seniors because they don't have to uproot their whole life when their health needs change.

"[Residents] know what is coming and they can mentally prepare for their next move," Chaudhury said.

Care expensive

Ken Lockett is in assisted living at Elim Village, a wholly private facility in Surrey. His wife Kay lives in an adjoining building where she is in residential care.

It costs the couple $9,000 a month, but they get to spend most of their time together.

"I choose to eat with Kay because I like being with her," Lockett said.

With the care they are getting, Kay Lockett’s health has improved.

"Because of that she now weights 110 pound," Ken Lockett said.

Despite the expense, Elim Village is officially non-profit.

"We have space available in all of those levels care for people to move through the community," said Ron Pike, the facility’s chief operating officer.

Haro Park Centre in Vancouver’s West End has been offering the same style of seniors care for 30 years.

It's the perfect place for resident Barb Malcolm.

"I know this is final. I know this is where I am going to be. I won’t be going off into an apartment by myself ever again, and I don't mind that," Malcolm said.

Malcolm used to live just a few blocks away.

"I have a lot of West End friends that come and visit me all the time, and that’s really neat."


With files from Renee Filippone