Funds for seniors care

It isn’t a surprise that we have an aging population. For years we’ve been warned over and over of the coming wave of baby boomers entering their retirement years. 

As of 2014, almost 16 per cent of Canada’s population was over the age of 65 and the population continues to age. This issue has been explored from many angles including the increasing burden likely to be placed on our health care system. 

Earlier this year the BC Care Providers Association released a report calling on our provincial government to address what CEO Daniel Fontaine calls a rising tide when it comes to seniors care. 

The association rightly points out seniors are different today than in previous generations. We are living longer, staying in our homes longer and entering care facilities much later in life than previous generations. Instead of moving into a care home in their 70s, the average age is now 88.

These changes bring some fresh challenges to our senior care system.  Sheer numbers indicate we will have a serious space shortage in our care facilities as the baby boom generation reaches the age when more will need a supportive care environment. We also face challenges when it comes to home care and increasing pressure on family caregivers. 

In its report called Strengthening Seniors Care: A Made in BC Roadmap, the BC Care Providers Association makes 30 recommendations to our government. 

These include: increasing daily direct-care hours in publicly funded care homes; increasing minimum home care visits; creating care hubs particularly in rural communities so more people can age in place; refurbishing or replacing older care homes; repurposing unused care beds; and investing in recruiting and training more care workers. 

The association also recommends that by 2021 no more than five per cent of acute care beds be occupied by a senior awaiting another level of care. Currently, 13% of acute beds are filled this way. 

In all, the recommendations in this report would mean an annual investment of about $337 million. 

In the area of seniors care, as in most things, preparation is key to success. We are not dealing with a sudden disaster or an unexpected eventuality. The population continues to age and will need increasing supports and eventual care over the next 30 years or more. Our best course of action is to examine what targeted actions can be taken now to improve our system so that we can handle this rising tide and continue to provide high quality, compassionate care and dignity to our senior citizens, their families, and all people living in our province.

 

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