Premier Christy Clark says she's disappointed B.C.'s new seniors' advocate had not been appointed, even though her government created the new position nine months ago.
"It's taken longer than I hoped," said Clark in an interview with CBC Radio's Rick Cluff on The Early Edition.
An ombudsman's report, released in two parts in 2009 and 2012, called for the creation of the position after the B.C. Ombudsman's office uncovered a wide range of problems for seniors in the province. Then, last February, Clark confirmed the government would create the new position and the Seniors Advocate Act was passed in March — but the position remains unfilled.
Noting the provincial election did get in the way, Clark said she's hoping the advocate will be in place next spring.
"If we have the right person there, we can get them up and running by the spring, that's my hope."
Clark's comments followed news of the recent death of Joan Warren, a senior suffering from dementia who wandered away from her care home in North Vancouver.
Dementia Action Plan underway
In addition to the advocate, the province also committed to a two-year Dementia Action Plan last November.
Clark says the Ministry of Health has delivered the plan, but added that she would like to see more spaces provided for people who suffer from dementia.
"It's complicated because it's a different kind of care," said Clark.
"People with dementia, like, wander often and like to walk so we have to find a way for them to do that safely. It's not a kind of care we typically provide in every hospital setting.
"We have to be building that into our planning in the long term and my hope is that over the next few years we grow our ability to look after these unique patients."
But Mike Coyle, the manager of Coquitlam Search and Rescue says the province's plans do not go far enough.
"Three to four times a year, we get activated for a missing person with dementia and my insight is that there are these dementia action plans and the role of search and rescue isn't included in them," said Coyle.
"It's a good suggestion," said Clark, adding that her hope is that search and rescue teams will not be constantly relied upon.
"Ultimately that's the worst possible outcome... but hopefully we can make sure that patients are safe and don't need to use the service," Clark said.