Assisted living report released on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, is shedding light on the number of publicly funded units versus privately owned and operated ones. (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives photo)

Report highlights need for more publicly funded assisted living units for B.C. seniors

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is calling on province to boost assisted living units in B.C.

A group of policy researchers is calling on the B.C. government to fund more affordable assisted living units for seniors in a new study shedding light on a decline of publicly subsidized units despite the number of seniors in B.C. growing.

According to The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, B.C. added 105 subsidized units between 2008 and 2017 while privately owned seniors’ homes added 1,130 private pay units in the same time period. Assisted living is a type of supportive housing for people with moderate levels of disability who can direct their own care but need daily personal assistance in order to live independently, such as help getting dressed and bathing or assistance taking medications.

Average annual rents for those private units range from just over $24,000 for an assisted living bachelor suite to more than $36,000 for a one bedroom, plus a myriad of additional fees for extra services and supplies not included in the basic monthly charge, according to report author Andrew Longhurst.

Meanwhile, the median income for a single senior in the province is roughly $27,600.

“Without access to subsidized assisted living, seniors who can’t afford to pay privately may go without care altogether or wait until their health deteriorates to the point of requiring a nursing home or hospitalization,” Longhurst said in a news release Wednesday.

ALSO READ: Union pleas for province to act on nursing home takeover by Chinese government

“This situation does not serve seniors or our public health care system well at all.”

When compared to the growing population of seniors aged 75 years and older in B.C., the province saw a 17 per cent drop in the number of subsidized assisted living units between 2008 and 2017.

In 2008, there were 4,393 publicly subsidized units for slightly more than 298,000 seniors in the province, or a rate of 14.7 per 1,000 seniors. But by 2017, according to the report, there were 4,485 units for roughly 367,000 seniors – a rate of 12.2.

Region-by-region, four of the five health authorities saw declines during this time, including Vancouver Coastal Health (25 per cent decline), Fraser Health (19 per cent decline), Vancouver Island Health (17 per cent decline) and Interior Health (11 per cent decline).

Vancouver Coastal Health had the lowest level of access with just 10 units per 1,000 seniors. Meanwhile, Northern Health saw a marginal increase in the number of units, at five per cent.

Longhurst said another key concern is the rise in international companies owning seniors’ care facilities. Currently, the provincial government does not limit how much private operators can charge.

“Allowing assisted living facilities to be treated as financial commodities is at odds with the basic social purpose of providing care to vulnerable seniors,” he said.

“The absence of public capital investments to enable health authorities and non-profits to develop new spaces means very few new publicly subsidized assisted living facilities are being built. The private-pay market has benefited as a result.”

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’s report makes two recommendations to the province: Increase government funding to open more assisted living units and implement detailed, public disclosure of all assisted living units including the cost, ownership and quality of services.

The province is expected to unveil their next budget later this month. Black Press Media has reached out to the health ministry for comment.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Seniors

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Snow expected to hit West Kootenay passes overnight on Thursday

Up to 15 cm of snow could fall on Highway 3 between Paulson summit to Kootenay Pass by Friday morning

Former Grand Forks fire chief suing city for wrongful dismissal

Dale Heriot was fired in July 2019 after his department was investigated for safety, bullying issues

Regional District of Kootenay Boundary seeks online feedback on transit, housing

Surveys on the RDKB’s website are asking for input to help plan for the future

School District 51 staff iron out plan for return to classrooms

Teachers are looking for a comprehensive health and safety plan to be in place before June 1

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Oak Bay man stumbles upon eagle hunting seal, grabs camera just in time

The eagle did ‘a perfect butterfly stroke to shore’ with its prey, photographer says

Most Read