British Columbia’s Seniors Advocate, Isobel Mackenzie, speaks to the Senior Citizens’ Association of B.C. at the Canoe Seniors Centre on Friday, May 3. (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

Health-care system moving seniors to nursing homes

Disproportionately more poor people in long-term care facilities, B.C. Seniors Advocate finds

The health-care system provides built-in incentives for people to move into long-term care facilities, says the BC Seniors Advocate, a reality she would like to see changed.

Speaking in Canoe on Friday, May 3 to the Senior Citizens Association of BC, an umbrella group made up of BC seniors from throughout the province, Isobel MacKenzie said the income of a significant number of B.C. seniors is not meeting their expenses.

She said 74 per cent of people surveyed in a mail-out that garnered 1,599 responses are either concerned or very concerned about health-care costs.

How can that be when health-care is free, she asks. She explains that at 55, health-care is free. A person can clean their house, drive themselves, bathe themselves – and all their health-care needs are covered.

However, at 90, perhaps, a person might still have a sharp brain but might not be able to see, hear well or walk without a walker.

Now they need to pay somebody to help them take a bath, to get meals, to drive to appointments, to shovel the snow. Suddenly it moves from, it would be nice to have a pedicure, to want, not need – they need someone to cut their toenails.

“We asked, if you required 24-hour care, where would you want to live? Only 20 per cent said a nursing home. A big chunk wanted to go to a retirement home. About 40 per cent wanted to stay at home. Right now we have a system that incentivizes people to move into nursing homes.”

Read more: Province taking over seniors’ home care in southern B.C.

Read more: Home Care declines as B.C. senior population grows, advocate says

Read more: BC Seniors Advocate questions labour shortage in care homes

The maximum a person must pay in a nursing home is $3,200, but the amount is based on income. Most people, because they have less income, pay $1,800 to $2,000, she says.

The actual cost for a nursing home bed is $6,400 or higher. So if the government has to contribute $3,200 to top up the cost – on average closer to $4,800 – to house someone in a nursing home, why not give them the $3,200 for expenses at home, MacKenzie asks. For instance, the government could pay hydro bills on their behalf, telecommunications on their behalf and could set up a fund for house repairs.

“Now the only way to get the subsidy is to go into a facility. So that’s why poorer people go. There are disproportionately more poorer people in long-term care.”

She says seniors want choice, something she’d like to work on with the government. In the last five years, home support has been providing less services to seniors, not more.

In about five weeks, MacKenzie expects her report on home support to be complete and available to the public.

The Office of the Seniors Advocate monitors and analyzes seniors services and issues in B.C., and makes recommendations to government and service providers to address systemic issues. According to its website, the office was established in 2014 and is the first office of its kind in Canada.


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

QUESTION

Just Posted

Young Vernon melanoma survivor speaks out about sun danger

World Melanoma Day is recognized every May to highlight the growing prevalence of malignant melanoma.

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: rain, clouds, thunderstorms and flash floods

Environment Canada forecasts dreadful weather for Thursday

North Okanagan explores compost options

Organic waste from ICI amounts to about 60 per cent of all organics waste seen in the landfill

Civic Sounds line-up unveiled

Free, outdoor concert series continues at Civic Plaza this summer

Multiple black bear sightings in residential area near Armstrong elementary

Pictures of the bear have been posted on the Armstrong Community Forum frequently

Hundreds of homeowners angered over proposed development on WFN land

Westbank First Nation are seeking to rezone Lot 348-3 from low density to high density area

Documentary on former hockey star to air in Kelowna

The story of 5-time Stanley Cup winner Grant Fuhr comes to Kelowna June 16

Unbe-leaf-able: Agassiz man finds more than 200 four-leaf clovers in a month

Walt Hardinge has found more than 219 four-or-more leaf clovers this spring alone

Trudeau visits Kamloops

Justin Trudeau met with the Kamloops mayor and First Nations

Crews fight fire with fire to keep blaze from northern Alberta town

The wildfire now covers some 920 square kilometres

Man in B.C. charged with murder and arson in 2016 New Brunswick death

He is charged in the death of 71-year-old Lucille Maltais, who was found inside a burned down home

Kelowna fundraiser returns to support African grandmothers

The 2019 Stride to Turn the Tide walk is June 1

Kelowna thrill-seeker returns to rally racing

Mark Jennings-Bates is back behind the wheel at Rocky Mountain Rally this weekend

Improve your life and theirs, adopt a cat from the BC SPCA

The BC SPCA holds an adult cat adoption promotion

Most Read