(Vancouver) A year and a half after the release of an exhaustive and damning report on the state of seniors care by the province’s Ombudsperson, the BC government has largely failed to make meaningful improvements.
Ombudsperson Kim Carter released her report, The Best of Care: Getting it Right for Seniors in British Columbia, in February 2012. The report provided a comprehensive roadmap for fixing BC’s home and community health care system. In June 2013, the Ombudsperson posted a detailed listing of the status of each recommendation. A new policy brief published today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives analyzes the extent of the provincial government’s implementation of the 140 recommendations that were specifically directed to the Ministry of Health. It finds:
- Just 6% of the recommendations have been fully implemented.
- 24% have either been partially implemented or are under consideration.
- 3% have not moved forward despite a government commitment to do so.
- 1% have missed their timeline for implementation.
- A stunning 66% have been ignored.
“There is an appalling lack of leadership from the provincial government on seniors care,” says lead author Marcy Cohen. “The Ministry of Health has not fulfilled its responsibility to set appropriate standards of care and service levels to ensure seniors’ needs are met no matter where they live in the province.”
Other key areas of concern addressed by the Ombudsperson include inadequate public reporting on service levels; lack of advocacy and support for seniors or their families in navigating the home and community care system; failure to improve the complaints process in home and community care; and the inadequacy of home support services.
Cohen points to an important potential bright spot — the creation of a new Seniors Advocate position. However, she cautions that the Advocate faces a system plagued by gaps and failures, and, apparently, little government will to act on recommended changes.
“Ensuring quality care for seniors is not only the right thing to do, in the long run it saves money for all British Columbians,” says Cohen. “With improved home support and other community-based services, seniors stay healthier and use the expensive hospital system much less.”
The Ombudsperson’s Report on Seniors Care: A Brief Analysis of the Government’s (Non)Response is available at policyalternatives.ca/nonresponse. For more information or interviews contact Sarah Leavitt at 604-801-5121 x233 or [email protected].