Seniors Advocate service report raises red flags
Prince George, B.C. – The Seniors Advocate has released a report on services for seniors in B.C. and while offering some positive notes, there are some areas of concern.
Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie says the positive notes include the fact 96% of seniors report they have a regular GP and that 80% of seniors over the age of 85 have no signs of dementia.
One area of concern is the number of incidents of aggression between residents in residential care. There were between 425 and 550 incidents of such aggression that resulted in harm reported in 2014/2015. Mackenzie says that number of cases is still relatively small compared to the more than 27 thousand people who are in residential care, but her office will be starting a more in depth study to see if there are any particular patterns or systemic issues that contribute to an increased risk of resident on resident aggression. “I think you would agree that any such incident when you are dealing with this population, has a potential for a fatality” says Mackenzie.
Other areas of note are as follows:
• Home support hours decreased in three out of five health authorities, while the number of clients increased in four out of five Mackenzie says in some areas such as Northern Health, the decline may be linked to a difficulty in recruiting home support workers.
• There are 943 individuals on the waitlist for a total of 4,430 subsidized assisted living units. There has been less than a 1% increase in the number of subsidized assisted living units since 2012
• The number of residential care beds in the province has increased by 3.5% since 2012, but the population over 75 has increased 10% during that time and the number of seniors placed within the 30-day target window has decreased from 67% to 63% in the past year
• 18% of licensed residential care facilities did not have an annual inspection within the last year
• Since 2005, the Shelter Aid for Elder Renters (SAFER) maximum rent that qualifies for a subsidy increased 9% while rents increased by 34%
• Income supports for seniors such as the Old Age Supplement and Guaranteed Income Supplement increased by 1%. The BC Seniors’ Supplement, available to low-income seniors, has not increased in over 25 years
• The Seniors Abuse and Information Line (SAIL) received 1,286 calls related to elder abuse in 2014 and 15% of these calls reported the abuse had been going on for five or more years
The information released today will be the baseline for annual comparisons to see if improvements are being made.