British Columbia

Free up acute care beds with seniors-specific funding say care providers

The B.C. Care Providers Association say specific funding could finance the operation of more than over 4,000 long-term care beds.

The B.C. Care Providers Association says move would reduce unnecessary hospital admissions

The seniors advisory panel in Sudbury is seeking input from the local seniors population on what the city could do to be more age friendly. (iStock)

Take a small portion of seniors' acute care funding, and redirect it into home and community care, including new long-term initiatives.

That is the core recommendation in a report released today by the B.C. Care Providers Association.

The report proposes taking one per cent of the funding currently given to provincial health authorities over a five-year period, a total of about $320.8 million.

The money could potentially fund the annual operation of almost 4,400 long-term care beds, or 12.8 million care aide hours or eight million home support hours, according to the report.

Acute care bed blockage

Daniel Fontaine, CEO of the BCCPA, says there are a "staggering" number of seniors taking up beds in acute care facilities such as Surrey Memorial Hospital or Vancouver General Hospital when they don't need to be there.

"Province-wide, roughly 13 per cent of every bed-night is being used by somebody who should be at another level of care," he said.

Fontaine says the cost of an acute-care bed can range from $800 to almost $2,000 per day, compared to about $200 for a residential-care bed.

"We know immediately you're going to have two things happen if you can get the people out: they get better care, better outcomes, better quality of life — and you save a lot of money at the same time."

The BCCPA report comes at a time when — for the first time in Canada's history, according to Statistics Canada — the number of people aged 65 and older is higher than the number of those younger than 15.

The report is a response to policy papers released by the Ministry of Health in February this year, which called for feedback on how to create a more sustainable health system, as demand for residential care is expected to grow by 120 per cent over the next 20 years.

In a statement the Ministry of Health said it is too soon to comment on any specifics of the report, but said that the association's insight and feedback is valued.

"The recommendations provided will be included in the conversations we are having in the months ahead with the association."

'Community care hubs'

The BCCPA also recommends creating "community care hubs" — networks of care homes and/or home care providers that share services and specialize in seniors care within a specific geographic area.

Fontaine said these hubs would offer services such as dialysis, chronic disease management, wound care and other primary and sub-acute services — and would lower ER visits by seniors in residential care.

"There would be a suite of other sub-acute services that you could get there, instead of getting it in an acute care facility," he said.

To hear the interview with Daniel Fontaine listen to the audio labelled: BC Care Providers Association's new report on funding home, community care


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