British Columbia

Shortcomings in private seniors care related to funding model, B.C. advocate says

B.C.’s senior advocate says the news that Interior Health has appointed an administrator to oversee operations at a privately owned Okanagan seniors home is troubling.

Companies get the same government funding even if they're substandard, she notes

B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie says part of the problem with privately owned, for-profit seniors care is that companies get the same government funding whether they are good or bad. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

B.C.'s senior advocate says the news that Interior Health has appointed an administrator to oversee operations at a privately owned Okanagan seniors home is troubling, but points to the financial model for these care homes as a possible reason that private care homes fall short.

Summerland Seniors Village is the fourth B.C. seniors care home owned by Retirement Concepts to be taken over by the local health authority because of ongoing infractions in standards of care for residents. 

Licensing staff from Interior Health had been checking in with the facility periodically over the past year, each time finding the home to be lacking in several areas, including care planning, staffing shortages and hygiene. 

"It's very, very unusual to see so many of what we would call concomitant kinds of issues and violations," Isobel Mackenzie told Daybreak South host Chris Walker. 

"And while that time is lapsing — in the case of this care home I'm looking at complaints and reports stemming well back into 2018 — those residents are receiving substandard care."

B.C.'s Health Minister Adrian Dix says the issue is not about private versus public care, it's about one private company that is failing to meet standards of care. (Alexander Raths/Shutterstock)

Meanwhile, she said, Retirement Concepts has continued to receive full funding from Interior Health.

British Columbia-based Retirement Concepts, which operates about two dozen supportive living facilities, was purchased by a subsidiary of Beijing-based Anbang Insurance Group in 2017.

 In 2018, the Chinese government sentenced Anbang's founder to 18 years in prison for fraud and seized the company's assets. 

Mackenzie said the funding model for private care facilities like those run by Retirement Concepts needs to include incentives to be good operators.

"Part of the problem right now is you have no incentive to be good or bad, because you get paid the same," she said. 

Mackenzie released a report earlier this month that concluded public money is being given to for-profit operations that aren't delivering on the required level of care. 

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix told reporters earlier this week that this is not a debate about whether seniors care facilities should be public or private, adding that Retirement Concepts is failing to meet standards of care while other for-profit companies in B.C. are operating without incident. 

"It's our expectation that those running Retirement Concepts ... will start to take responsibility," he said. "In the meantime we're doing what we have to do to intervene to protect the interests of seniors."



With files from Daybreak South and Tanya Fletcher


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