Seniors use gymnastics equipment for routines to improve their balance and flexibility, one of the programs developed to keep B.C.’s growing number of seniors active and independent. These programs have been suspended, seniors’ activity centres closed due to COVID-19. (Delta Gymnastics Society)

Seniors use gymnastics equipment for routines to improve their balance and flexibility, one of the programs developed to keep B.C.’s growing number of seniors active and independent. These programs have been suspended, seniors’ activity centres closed due to COVID-19. (Delta Gymnastics Society)

B.C. senior health indicators show strain as numbers grow

Wait times for long-term care continue to grow

Beyond the immediate threat of COVID-19 to B.C. seniors, some indicators of their overall health are improving as the number of baby boomers entering their retirement years continues to grow.

As demand for care continues to rise and the options for seniors to socialize and exercise have been reduced or eliminated, what remains to be seen is how severe the long-term impacts of the pandemic will be.

The survey shows there was a four per cent increase in the number of B.C. residents aged 65 and older, continuing a trend that has seen a 27 per cent increase in the past 10 years. The vast majority, 94 per cent, continue to live independently in their own homes, with three per cent in long-term care and three per cent in assisted living, a rate that has remained stable for the past five years.

The latest survey data are for the 2019-20 year ended in March, contained in the latest Monitoring Senior Services report produced annually by the office of B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie. Before the pandemic disrupted senior care operations and the rest of the world economy, the rising number of seniors needing care was already stretching resources and wait times.

RELATED: Increase in senior care home visits promised

RELATED: Still too many seniors in care homes, on drugs

The number of long-term care beds per thousand population aged 85 and up has decreased nine per cent in the past five years, with a 27 per cent increase in seniors on the wait list. The average wait time for admission to a facility was 52 days, and the number admitted within 30 days dropped by 11 per cent.

Health Minister Adrian Dix’s emphasis on reaching the provincial target of 3.36 hours a day of care has shown significant results, with the number of long-term care facilities funded to meet the target rising from 30 to 50 per cent compared to the previous year. All facilities owned by regional health authorities met the target, but only 22 per cent of contract facilities had met the goal in 2019-20.

The survey is released annually along with the Long-term Care Quick Facts Directory, used by families looking for senior care and evaluating each provincial facility. The latest survey shows progress made in reducing falls with injury in publicly funded facilities, but little progress made in reducing the use of anti-psychotic drugs, which Mackenzie has identified as too high.

There was also a 17 per cent increase in substantiated complaints related to the province’s licensing regulations for senior facilities, which are reported in the directory in greater detail this year.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsCoronavirus

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

Just Posted

Russell Jonathon George Gurney was last seen in Chilliwack in mid-December. (RCMP photo)
RCMP ask for help to find missing Abbotsford man last seen in Chilliwack

Police and family are concerned for the well-being of Russell Jonathon George Gurney

The Harrison Hot Springs village office, as seen from the back. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)
Harrison village staff to get additional office space

The village has agreed to spend up to $75,000 of the COVID-19 Safe Restart Grant on a new portable

Harrison Hot Springs kindergarten students held a peaceful protest Monday (Jan. 18) to end separated recess. The protest was inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. and his lessons of non-violent action. Check out page XX for the whole story. (Dustin Neufeld/Contributed)
PHOTOS: Harrison students launch peaceful protest against playground division for MLK day

The kindergarten students negotiated with the school principal to enable recess on both playgrounds

Ottawa serial killer Camille Joseph Cleroux died of natural causes at Abbotsford’s Pacific Institution on Sunday.
Serial killer housed at Abbotsford’s Pacific Institution dies of natural causes

Camille Joseph Cleroux announced dead on Sunday, known as notorious Ottawa serial killer

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Ralliers gather in front of the Cityviews Village apartment building in Maple Ridge to protest attempts to evict low-income tenants by the building owner. (Ronan O’Doherty - The News)
Tenants protest pressure tactics by new landlord at Maple Ridge apartment building

Protest held in front of Cityviews Village on 223 St. Tuesday to rally against low-income evictions

Most Read