BC Seniors Advocate Isobelle Mackenzie (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. senior care improving, but most far below staffing target

Seniors Advocate finds 15% met care hours standard last year, up from 9%

The latest directory of B.C. seniors care facilities finds that as of last year, 15 per cent of them meet or exceed the provincial guideline of 3.35 hours of care per patient day.

That’s up from only nine per cent in 2015-16, B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie reported Wednesday in the latest edition of her Residential Care Facilities Quick Facts Directory.

The key reason for the shortfall is money to pay sufficient staff. The province-wide survey finds that overall, B.C. residential care facilities are funded at an average of 3.14 direct care hours per resident per day. Contracted facilities were funded for an average of 3.01 hours, and health authority owned and operated facilities averaged 3.35 hours, almost up the the B.C. government’s target.

Jennifer Whiteside, secretary-business manager of the Hospital Employees’ Union, said Wednesday’s report is a familiar story of understaffed facilities in B.C, with 85 per cent of them still not meeting the government’s own standard.

“When there are not enough staff on shift to do their jobs to the highest possible standard, seniors and those who provide their care are put at risk,” Whiteside said. “Staff simply cannot provide the level and quality of care needed to keep themselves and their residents safe.”

Related: Living and dying with grace in residential care

Related: Report: Nelson’s residential care facilities under-performing

The directory contains information on 293 residential care facilities that have 27,142 publicly subsidized beds. The online database is now searchable by regional health authority, municipality and name of care facility, so seniors and their families can check the status of each one.

About 8,800 of those beds are operated directly be a provincial health authority and the other 18,000 are operated by contractors with funding from a health authority.

“Health authority-owned and operated facilities have higher average funded direct care hours, higher rates of therapy, fewer single-occupancy rooms, more complex and physically-dependent residents, and fewer reportable incidents and substantiated complaints compared to contracted facilities,” according to the Seniors Advocate office.

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