The much-anticipated final report by BC Ombudsperson Kim Carter on her investigation into the crisis in seniors care was released last week. With 176 recommendations, "The Best of Care: Getting It Right for Seniors in British Columbia (Part 2)" outlines measures for improving quality, accessibility, and accountability in home and community care, in particular for home support services, assisted living, and residential care. According to Marcy Cohen, author of numerous CCPA studies in this area, the Ombudsperson has provided "an extraordinarily thorough, precise and do-able roadmap for rebuilding BC’s home and community care system."
Last week also saw the release of a provincial government "action plan" for improving seniors care. The plan does outline some small positive steps, but overall is drastically out-of-step with the seriousness of the crisis, and does not commit the government to fully implementing the Ombudsperson's recommendations. The crisis in seniors care resulted from years of cuts, underfunding and the failure to provide needed oversight and coordination. What's needed now is strong provincial leadership.
Implementing the Ombudsperson’s roadmap for seniors care would help BC’s growing population of seniors to live independently for longer, and respect seniors’ right to age and die with dignity. It would also go a long way to reducing strain in acute care, the most expensive part of the health care system, since any of the problems related to overcrowding and wait times in hospitals result from poor coordination and lack of access to home and community-based services.
A commitment by the provincial government to fully implement the BC Ombudsperson's recommendations in a timely way is needed. You can help by contacting your MLA by letter, email or phone (find your MLA here) — let them know that you support the Ombudsperson's recommendations, and want to see strong provincial leadership in solving the crisis.
In the coming weeks, we'll provide you with more analysis of the Ombudsperson's report, and brief summary materials. To learn more in the meantime, check out these links:
- A CCPA news release about the report
- An excellent column by Gary Mason in The Globe and Mail
- The BC Ombudsperson's final report
- The provincial government's action plan
- The CCPA documentary film on seniors care, The Remaining Light.
- CCPA research on seniors care (including short opinion pieces and summaries) is also available here.