Vancouver Island, Okanagan and Kootenays have the highest proportion of seniors. (Seniors Advocate)

Home care declines as B.C. senior population grows, advocate says

More deferring property tax, using rent subsidy to stay at home

Keeping frail seniors at home has been a priority of B.C. health ministers for years, but delivery of home care and day activity programs to support that declined in 2018, B.C.’s Seniors Advocate says.

The number of seniors receiving home support services decreased by 1.4 per cent, despite a four per cent increase in the B.C. population over 65 and a five per cent increase in those over 85, according to the latest senior services monitoring report, released Wednesday.

Adult day program access also declined by six per cent in 2018, adding up to a 17 per cent drop in program days delivered in the past two years. “Not surprisingly, there is a 23 per cent increase in the wait list,” the report says.

“The ability to live as independently as possible for as long as possible depends on a number of key factors,” Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie said. “Appropriate housing, sufficient income, adequate transportation, accessible health care and assistance with personal needs must all be available if seniors are to live safely and with dignity.”

Health Minister Adrian Dix added $75 million to the budget for respite care and adult day programs last year, in an effort to ease the pressure on family members supporting seniors in their homes.

“The reduction in home support clients is puzzling, as we should be seeing those numbers increase,” Mackenzie said.

RELATED: Still too many seniors in care facilities, on drugs

RELATED: B.C. making progress on care home staffing, Dix says

Rising housing costs have also made it more difficult for seniors to remain at home. Property tax deferrals have risen by 53 per cent in the past four years, with more than 57,000 seniors deferring taxes in 2017-18 and more than $200 million in property taxes paid to municipalities by the province to date.

For seniors who rent, there was a seven per cent increase in use of rent subsidies through the Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters program, and a 34 per cent increase in the total subsidies paid.

For seniors who need residential care, the average waiting time has improved, with 71 per cent getting admitted to a care facility within 30 days. But the rate varies between regional health authorities, with a low of 45 per cent for Island Health and a high of 90 per cent for the Vancouver Coastal health region.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

West Kelowna urges flood prep for residents

Warmer temperatures means melting snow, get supplies March 25

Kelowna Chamber of Commerce says federal budget missed opportunities

One area that was missed was tax competitveness

UBC Okanagan gets new softball team

The new team will be led by long-time softball coach Joni Frei

Burning season regulations to change in Central Okanagan

The Regional District of Central Okanagan reminds residents of restrictions

Kelowna Women’s Shelter Thrift Store broken into

Kelowna RCMP say that an undisclosed amount of cash and clothing was stolen

VIDEO: Sunny skies in the forecast makes for a great start to spring

Mostly sunny skies with a chance of rain by Friday evening in the Okanagan Valley

No cause yet for grassfire near Kamloops

Fire was about 1.8 hectares in size

Paramedic staff shortage at critical level: B.C. union

A number of units were out of service due to lack of staffing in Lower Mainland, union says

B.C. lottery winner being sued by Surrey co-workers

They claim he owes them $200,000 each, in a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver

Case made for free tampon dispeners in schools

Advocate says access, anonymity key to providing less stressful experience for female students

Fraser Health under fire again for taxiing homeless man from Langley to Hope

Patient sent to Hope shelter because a spot in the man’s home community couldn’t be located

Dead sea lion discovered on Hornby Island shoreline

Reports indicate animal was shot in the head

Celina Caesar-Chavannes quits Liberal caucus, sits as independent MP

The Whitby, Ont., MP has been a vocal supporter of Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott

Woman punched on the sidelines of B.C. soccer game

Both involved were watching the U21 game in West Vancouver from the sidelines when things got heated

Most Read