Seniors at a residential care facility in Burnaby B.C., September 2018. (B.C. government)

B.C. seniors allowed more choice to stay in assisted living

Province doesn’t need to wait for a complaint to investigate care, Adrian Dix says

Restrictions on assisted living facilities are being eased to allow B.C. seniors to stay longer and be more independent, Health Minister Adrian Dix says.

Regulation changes are in effect to allow more flexibility in determining who qualifies for assisted living, Dix announced Wednesday.

“What this means for people is that they will not be forced prematurely to leave assisted living when they neither want to nor need to,” Dix said. “This is a very significant change.”

Assisted living provides support with daily living activities such as eating and dressing, managing medications, therapeutic diet, safe keeping of money and other personal property, intensive rehabilitation therapy, behaviour management and psychosocial supports. There are 7,300 assisted living beds in B.C., 4,400 of which are publicly funded, in addition to 28,000 long-term care beds.

“In the past, to qualify for assisted living, you could receive two and only two of those services,” Dix said. “If you required more than that, you were asked to move, or advised to move to long-term care.

“In fact the gulf between assisted living and long-term care is large. Long-term care is 24-hour care every day, and takes away from many people that sense of independence that they have.”

RELATED: Too many seniors in care, on drugs, seniors advocate says

RELATED: B.C. Minister Terry Lake introduces assisted living changes

The new regulations also give the assisted living registrar the ability to investigate assisted living residences, rather than only responding to complaints as has been the case.

Aside from offering more choice and independence to seniors, the province has a financial incentive to keep as many people out of costly residential care as possible. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie has reported on the issue of seniors being assigned to care homes when they have the cognitive and physical ability to stay home with medical and housekeeping support or move to assisted living.

Dix credited Mackenzie with raising the issue, and said the latest regulations will work towards maintaining independence and reducing residential care as the number and age of seniors in B.C. continues to rise.


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