British Columbia seniors' advocate says 16 people have died in the last three years in a disturbing trend of violence among the elderly in residential care facilities and hospitals.

Of the 16 deaths, nine occurred in residential care facilities, according to the office of the senior's advocate. 

Isobel Mackenzie says data available for the first time shows there were as many as 550 incidents of resident-on-resident violence at B.C. care facilities in 2014-2015, and the issue must be further examined.

She says her review will include in-depth research to determine if there are patterns or systemic issues that contribute to increased aggression.

Mackenzie says there are more than 27,000 seniors at care facilities, and total incidents of violence are small but substantial.

The advocate delivered a seniors monitoring report that found 235 serious violent incidents among seniors at care facilities last year.

On a more positive note, Mackenzie found that 96 per cent of B.C. seniors have their own doctor and four out of five elderly have no diagnosis of dementia.

Report highlights

Entitled "Monitoring Seniors' Services," the reports attempts to capture the state of key elements of seniors' care.

It also looks to the future when the population of seniors will be much larger than it is at present pointing to the possibility key services may not be keeping up with the aging trend. 

Currently 17.5 per cent of the province's population is over age 65, but by 2031 the number is expected to be 24 per cent. 

B.C. seniors' report cover

The report from B.C.'s seniors' advocate points to a growing seniors' population and the possibility key services may not be keeping pace with the aging trend. (Office of the Seniors Advocate)

The report looks at the broad categories of seniors' housing, health, transportation, and income support. 

Some highlights:

  • 943 seniors are currently on a waiting list for subsidized assisted living units.
  • There are a total of 4,430 subsidized assisted living units in the province, only a 0.9 per cent increase since 2012.
  • While the population of seniors over age 75 has risen by 10 per cent since 2012, the number of subsidized residential care beds has risen just 3.5 per cent over the same period.
  • There are over 27,000 seniors in residential care in the province.
  • There were up to 550 reported cases of resident-on-resident aggression that resulted in some harm to the resident in licensed care.
  • 18 per cent of licensed residential care facilities did not have an annual inspection within the last year.
  • ​96 per cent of seniors report having a regular GP.
  • Four out of five seniors over the age of 85 have no diagnosis of dementia.
  • The B.C. Senior's Supplement, an additional $49.30 per month for seniors receiving GIS, has not increased in almost 30 years.
  •  51,926 (1.9%) of regular HandyDART ride requests went unfulfilled in 2014.

With files from the Canadian Press