News

Isobel Mackenzie, BC Seniors Advocate, has released “A Billion Reasons to Care”, a study that has examined industry contracts, annual audited financial statements and detailed reports on revenue and expenditures in long term care.  The study revealed significantly more spending on direct care for residents in not-for-profit facilities compared to for-profit facilities.  The Advocate determined that “the contracted long term care system needs better monitoring of care hours, tighter financial oversight, and more transparency.”   The report may be viewed on her website:  https://www.seniorsadvocatebc.ca/a-billion-reasons-to-care/

– Three Retirement Concepts facilities on Vancouver Island now have Island Health oversight in response to significant care concerns.  Family Councils in each facility brought their collective concerns to licensing officers.  The Global News story can be seen here: 

Island Health takes control of third Retirement Concepts seniors home in months

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– Isobel Mackenzie released a study that revealed hospitalization rates for contracted facilities.  The report stated that hospitalization rates were significantly higher in contracted facilities. The Vancouver Sun story can be seen here:

Care providers call for B.C. seniors’ advocate to step down and review of office

 The original report can be viewed here:  https://www.seniorsadvocatebc.ca/app/uploads/sites/4/2018/08/ResidentialCaretoHospital-report.pdf

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– The Minister of Health has announced that people accessing long-term care can choose up to three “preferred” sites.  The goal is to make the process more client-centered.  See the MOH press release .    See also CBC report on the news .    

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– Isobel Mackenzie has released a report that is critical of home care services in BC.  The report reveals that there is not enough service, that 75% of staff are casual or part time, and that most of BC’s elderly cannot afford the service.  The report shows that someone with an annual income of $28,000 would have to pay $8,000 per year for a daily visit.  The entire report may be seen at her website:   http://www.seniorsadvocatebc.ca/app/uploads/sites/4/2019/06/Report-Home-Support-Review_web.pdf 

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– The federal Minister of Health announced “a $50M strategy for coping with Dementia”.  See reporting on the announcement and announcement details.

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– Seniors Advocate, Isobel Mackenzie has reported that “under-performance of B.C.’s private care homes is costing taxpayers”.  See the CBC’s report on the Advocate’s comments .

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– The newly released provincial budget has promised increased funding to help improve staffing ratios in residential care in BC.  Edith MacHattie (BC Health Coalition) reported the following:  “Today’s budget provides $548 million for seniors care over three years, including funds for residential care, where the majority of public homes are currently understaffed.  MacHattie says this investment will begin to repair many years of neglect of seniors care services.  Today, seniors have less access to publicly funded home and community care services – including home care, assisted living, and residential care – than in 2001.”

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– Worth the read:  

  • https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/promising-practices-long-term-care  (This publication explores the results of a long-term international study of best practices in long term care.
  • https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/physical-environments-long-term-care  (This publication explores the results of a study of best practices in the physical environment of long-term care facilities.
  • http://www.mqup.ca/wash–wear–and-care-products-9780773549234.php  (This publication explores how clothing and laundry provide “a window” into the structuring of care and work in long term care facilities)

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– VIAFC made a presentation and conducted workshop at the BC Health Coalition conference held in Vancouver on October 27/28.  The topic explored the value and the struggles of family councils in BC.  It also contrasted BC’s regulatory language that surrounds family councils to more comprehensive and supportive language that exists in other jurisdictions across BC .  Participants in the workshop came from all across BC, and explored ways to support and promote the “Proposal for Change” authored by VIAFC.

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– During the 2017 AGM, and subsequent to the release of the Ministry of Health Residential Care Staffing Review, the Vancouver Island Association discussed staffing practices that seemed to create roadblocks to successful delivery of care to residents. Conclusions were not drawn from quantifiable measures, but rather from individual perspectives that were then shared in small groups, and then shared collectively within the general meeting.  We then narrowed our focus to four concerns that were systemic, and therefore very significant:

  • Funding levels (and even targets) for staffing are inadequate to meet the requirements of current residents who are very much more in need than typical residents of just a few years ago.
  • Continuity of care is frequently compromised by poor staffing management.  Problem areas included mass (sometime repeated) turnovers in some facilities, large “casual” lists, ineffective float pools, recruitment problems, and overall low staffing levels.  Continuity of care is universally viewed by communities as critical to the successful, dignified aging of residents in care.
  • Ineffective staffing management practices frequently compromise effective communication among staff members and between staff and family members.
  • The level of training for care aides is often inadequate.

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– BC Parliamentary Secretary Dr. Darryl Plecas recently completed a residential care staffing review for the Ministry of Health.  After consultation with the the industry and with HEU, they created and released the report in March 2017.   Click here to see the Residential Care Staffing Review 

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– See the 2017 update of the Quick Facts Directory for residential care facilities here:  https://www.seniorsadvocatebc.ca/app/uploads/sites/4/2017/01/Residential-Care-Quick-Facts-Directory-2017.pdf

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– The Vancouver Sun reported on a study completed by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.  The study examines the decline in access to services.  It examines the link between the declining services and continued privatization of residential care facilities.

Access to care for B.C. seniors declining due to privatization: report

 The complete report may be seen here:   https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/privatization-declining-access-bc-seniors-care

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– Anbang Insurance from China has received approval from both the Canadian Government and the BC Provincial government for the purchase of Retirement Concepts residential care facilities.  The article may be viewed here:    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-approves-sale-of-bc-retirement-home-chain-to-chinese-group-with-murky-ownership/article34107591/.  Many concerns continue to be expressed, including by VIAFC :   http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/op-ed/comment-fast-sale-of-care-homes-rightly-raises-concerns-1.11843721

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– The Canadian Medical Association has released “State of Seniors Health Care in Canada”.   They are working hard to promote a National Seniors Care Strategy,  and are organizing forums to bring their ideas to communities on Vancouver Island.  Information on forums will follow.

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– Research indicates that for-profit residential care facilities provide “inferior care” when compared to not-for-profit facilities.  See the CBC report on McGregor’s study:  “Inferior Care”.   To see the entire study see details here:  PLOS Medicine

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– The Family Council at Beacon Hill Villa invites interested persons to attend an informational session about Representation Agreements, Power of Attorney, Living Wills “and more”.  The session will take place at the Beacon Hill Villa (635 Superior St, Victoria) in the Main Floor Boardroom, on Thursday, April 21st, beginning at 2:30 pm.  The presentation will be provided by Dustin Marnell of Horne Coupar.   Refreshments will be served.

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-Health Minister Lake has recently ordered a review of staffing guidelines for provincially subsidized residential care facilities throughout British Columbia.  This follows reports by the Seniors Advocate that showed that the vast majority of residential facilities are not meeting the 3.36 hprd (hours of direct care given to every resident) that are recommended for all facilities.  See the Vancouver Sun report  and view the staffing levels at your facility:

B.C. Health Minister orders review of staffing guidelines in long-term care homes for seniors

 Rob Wipond has earlier reported that British Columbia has also had twice the national use of antipsychotic drugs being administered in residential care facilities as compared to the rest of Canada.  See the article at Focus Magazine
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– Wexford Creek residential care facility in Nanaimo has announced that over 150 care staff will be terminated as the facility is sold to an unnamed buyer.  For more information on the story see the article in the Times Colonist.
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– The Vancouver Island Association of Family Councils hosted their 2016 AGM in Nanaimo.   The event was very well attended with Council Chairpersons or their designates from facilities throughout Island Health.  Guest speaker was Jay Chalke, Provincial Ombudsperson. 
Two strong themes emerged from the AGM.  One was the need for the Ministry of Health to implement regulatory  guarantees and support for the community voice provided by Family Councils.  VIAFC had previously submitted to the Ministry of Health the VIAFC Proposal For Change 2015.  Early in 2016 the Ministry responded  by saying that regulations would not be changed. 
The second strong theme that emerged was regarding the need for the Ministry of Health to implement policies to help stabilize staffing in residential facilities.  Discussion surrounded the impact that loss of continuity of care and inadequate staffing levels was having on residents. 
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– The BC Seniors Advocate has published a Quick Facts Directory that provides information about Residential Care Facilities throughout BC.  Information ranges from service provision to licensing inspection results. 
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– The Canadian Deprescribing Network  is a group that focusses on tapering off 3 classes of medications for seniors.  This is in response to many reports of over-medication of seniors.  See the CBC report for more information.
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VIAFC Logo– Jay Chalke, Provincial Ombudsperson, will be guest speaker at the 2016 AGM of the Vancouver Island Association of Family Councils.  The AGM will be held in Nanaimo on April 2nd.  Member councils will have representatives at the AGM, and any others interested in attending or learning more about family councils in residential care facilities are invited to contact (Mr) Kim Slater at kcslater@shaw.ca.

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– The BC Health Coalition has just released a summary of promises that are being made by federal leaders with regard to our public health care system and also about seniors care within Canada.   Here is a link to the website that briefly and clearly summarizes the platform of each party.  The summary is non-partisan, and simply an outline of commitments that are being made.  Please have a look.  The website can be found at ( http://www.votepublichealthbc.ca/election_evaluation )should you wish to share the information.  

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A recent article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has noted that our federal government “has walked away from” its responsibilities to support Canadian Health Care.  Many people are concerned that the first affected will be our vulnerable senior population.  This important article “advises all Canadians to keep the health policies of their candidates’ parties in mind when casting their ballots.”  View this informative, important CMAJ article which was published in late August 2015.

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MOH and Island Health’s plans to increase the numbers of surgeries performed in private clinics has continued to generate discussions within seniors advocacy groups (and public health care advocacy groups in general).  The hope is, of course, for fact-based decision-making on the part of policy makers when they look for solutions to wait-times for surgery.  The BC Health Coalition has published relevant research.  They make reference to the relationship between wait times and privatization of services .  The information was gathered by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.       Adding to the discussion was the recent Doctors of BC election.  With approximately 50% voting participation, doctors elected Dr. Alan Ruddiman (a pro-public health care advocate) over Dr. Brian Day (of Cambie Street Clinic). For a pre-election discussion of the two see this Huffington Post article.  

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– In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, there is a free panel presentation in Victoria.  For information on how to attend this event, see: 2015 WEAAD Poster

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Island Health has plans to contract out up to 55,000 day surgeries to private clinics in the next five years.   See the Victoria Times Colonist article on this plan.  Concerns have been expressed by seniors advocacy groups that this plan will ultimately drain public funding and public human resources as more professionals decide to work for private clinics.

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The Ministry of Health has released a document entitled, “Future Directions for Surgical Services in BC”.  The paper advocates for contracting out in larger numbers, and for a broader range of surgical procedures to private clinics.  The document can be seen in its entirety at FDSSBC.

Concerns have been expressed about the fact that existing public operating rooms are not being used to capacity.  Here are excerpts from the document that reveal problems with use of existing OR’s: 

“Across the province there are 295 Main ORs with 82 percent (242.2) regularly staffed. Funding allocation was the reason most commonly cited for unstaffed ORs, although in a few cases health human resources (specifically anesthesiology) and insufficient patient demand also contributed. Relatively few ORs operate on evenings and weekends beyond being on-call and those that do are typically staffed to handle urgent and/or emergent cases only. In terms of Main OR closures, an estimated seven percent of day-time OR capacity is closed annually across the province due to Christmas, Spring Break and summer holidays, with the highest period of closure occurring in the summer when an estimated 23 percent of day-time OR capacity is closed. In addition to the Main ORs, there are also 19 Procedure Rooms, 87 percent (16.6) which are regularly staffed, and 64 Minor ORs, 82 percent (52.2) which are regularly staffed.” 

The Vancouver Island Association of Family Councils has expressed a concern directly to the Seniors Advocate that growth of private clinics will result in a drain of human resources from the public system, running the risk that “wait times” will increase even more for seniors (and others) in BC.

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The Vancouver Island Association of Family Councils has sent a “Proposal for Change” to the Ministry of Health.  The proposal was a product of our entire membership and is in response to many concerns that were expressed about roadblocks that some councils face in residential care facilities.  The document is available in its entirety on this link:  VIAFC Proposal For Change 2015

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On Friday Feb 6th, a forum, entitled Systems Change for Seniors Care will take place in Burnaby.  The Provincial Ombudsperson and the newly-appointed Seniors Advocate will be guest speakers.  The forum will strategize about “how we can secure major improvements to fractured and inadequate services.”   Residential Care will be one of the areas explored in a break-out session.

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– (Re. the Brian Day “for profit” Cambie Clinic in Vancouver – see below)…. The BC Health Coalition reports that dozens of private clinics are now suspected of overcharging patients for medically necessary treatment.   To determine if you or your senior has been charged unlawfully, see these examples .   If you have been to a private clinic and have been charged excessively for a medically necessary procedure, see how to add your voice (anonymously if you wish) to the growing list of complaints.

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– Prior to 2001, BC had mandatory staffing ratios for residential care facilities.  Those requirements have been struck from regulations, and  VIAFC has been drawing attention to the problems associated with poor staffing levels in residential care facilities.  Ontario long term care workers are also speaking out about problems they are facing.  They ask why we can ensure staffing ratios for children in day care, but not for seniors in residential care.

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– QMUNITY has just released a discussion paper that is a summary of findings and recommendtions to provide culturally competent care for LGBTQ seniors in Residential Care and Assisted Living.

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– The Seniors Advocate has a website that is up and running.  For a look, please see the SA’s website.

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– An update on the for profit Cambie Clinic operated by Dr. Brian Day: 

The clinic made a successful application to the courts to delay the constitutional challenge against the very laws that he has been breaking.  An audit eventually conducted by the BC Government revealed that he overbilled patients almost $500,000 in just 30 days that were examined. 

The problem is that the Clinic is now “negotiating” with the BC Government for a settlement.   There is a strong feeling on the part of many groups that a compromise would not be appropriate, and that the BC Government needs to hear from citizens that Medicare’s laws are not up for negotiations.  Another problem is that groups like the BC Health Coalition that have “intervener” status in the case have now been excluded from these now-secret negotiations.

To learn more, see the BC Health Coalition’s website on how your voice can be heard.  You may wish to share the information with your own networks.

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The 6th International Conference on  Patient-And Family-Centered Care is taking place in Vancouver from Aug 6-8, 2014.   For more information see the Conference Website .

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– The Vancouver Island Association of Family Councils conducted its 2014 AGM in Nanaimo on Saturday, May 24.  Participants represented Family Councils from nine communities throughout Island Health.  Guest speaker for the event was Bruce Ronayne, the Executive Director of Systemic Investigations from the office of the newly appointed Seniors Advocate.  Goals were established for the upcoming year.

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– On May 19, a Global Alzheimer’s and Dementia Action Alliance was launched.  See more information about the “Alliance“, and see the great resources available at the “I can! I will!” site.  The resources include “a library of ideas” for patients, family members, medical professionals, and others.

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– Kiwanis Pavilion in Victoria (3034 Cedar Hill Road) invites FC Chairpersons to attend their upcoming talk about “the various types of dementia, and how each presents itself along the route of its journey”. The presenter is Irene Barnes, nurse and educator, and the meeting takes place on May 12, at 3:15 pm.

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– The legal challenge to Canadian Public Health Care by the for-profit Cambie Surgery Centre is only four months away.  See the latest article in the Vancouver Sun about this court challenge.

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– Vancouver Island Association of Family Councils – Annual General Meeting.  Saturday, May 24, 2014 from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm at 3137 Barons Road, Nanaimo (Teachers Association Building).   Guest speaker:  Isobel McKenzie, Seniors Advocate.  Light lunch for $5.   Please contact Kim Slater (250-390-2311) for more information.

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– “How well are the needs of seniors with dementia being met in residential care facilities?”  Read the insights of Penny MacCourt in the Spring newsletter from Columbian Centre.  Currents Spring 2014

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– Dr. Michael Klein will be speaking at the Parksville Community Centre on Tuesday, April 29 from 7-9pm.  The free event is sponsored by the Canadian Doctors for Medicare, and will explore “Federal funding to Medicare (that will) be reduced by $36 billion over the next 10 years”, and “pending legal action (that) will permit more for-profit private clinics”.  The forum will pose the question: “who really pays?”

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– In the Long Term Care Homes Act, the Ontario Ministry of Health has regulatority guarantees for the role of Family Councils.  The regulations include no-cost requirements for facilities to give an independent voice to family councils.  For the section that pertains to Family Councils, see sections 4-3 to 4-7.

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