British Columbia

Most senior care homes not meeting staffing guidelines says B.C. seniors advocate

Ministry of Health says they will work with the Seniors Advocate and the parliamentary secretary for seniors to review the current staffing guideline.

Health Ministry says it will review staffing guidelines with advocate, the parliamentary secretary for seniors

B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie says data her office collected shows that 82 per cent of the government-funded residential care facilities in B.C. for seniors are not meeting the staffing guidelines laid out by the Ministry of Health. (CBC)

The majority of government-funded residential care facilities in B.C. for seniors are not meeting the staffing guidelines laid out by the Ministry of Health, suggests data collected by the Office of the Seniors Advocate.

Over 80 per cent of the 292 publicly-funded licensed facilities did not meet the recommended 3.36 hours of care per senior every day, according to information the office gathered for their first comprehensive directory for residential care facilities.

"The direct care hours incorporate not just nursing care and physiotherapy and rec[reational] therapy, but also care aids, which arguably are the lifeblood of our residential care facilities," B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie told B.C. Almanac host Gloria Macarenko.

"[So for patients] it's about how long you have to wait to be toileted, it's about how much time can be spent assisting you to eat if you need assistance, it's about how much time is going to be spent engaging in recreational therapy … it's about a lot of things that are going to give seniors a sense of whether they're happy or not.

"Some of them may be directly linked to their clinical health care, but a lot of it is definitely going to be linked to how engaged they feel in the place they call home."

Ministry says it will review guideline

In a statement, the Ministry of Health said that though the staffing guideline of 3.36 hours is "a starting point for planning decisions", it recognizes "the need to shift how the health system plans for health care needs today and for the future."

"As part of this the Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors, Daryl Plecas will be working with the Seniors Advocate and the Ministry to look at this issue," the statement read.

The ministry also said direct care hours are dependent on the individual's needs and that the average number of care hours and the amount of staffing in each facility depend on their patient population.

Is the benchmark adequate?

Mackenzie said the decision on funded care hours is made by the health authority that's providing the funding, and not the operator of the facility.

"So it's not that the particular care facility has decided this is what we're going to fund, it's the health authority has decided this is what they're going to be funded to provide."

She also said that there's some discussion over whether or not the benchmark of 3.36 hours is inadequate — but if 232 out of 292 facilities aren't meeting that, then it is very difficult to determine.

"There's certainly some evidence out there that it might be inadequate. It may be inadequate for some facilities and adequate for others, depending on the profile of the clients there."

With files from CBC's B.C. Almanac and On the Island.


To hear the full story listen to the audio labelled: Most senior care homes not meeting provincial staffing guidelines, says B.C. Seniors Advocate

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