WATCH: B.C. Government makes changes to assisted living act to help seniors be independent for as long as possible. Tess van Straaten reports.
Like many seniors, Victoria’s Anne Logie is worried about what she’ll do when she can no longer live in her own home.
“I think most of us do have that concern somewhere in the back of our minds.” says 77-year-old Logie. “There’s always that little edge to getting older because we don’t like change and change unfortunately comes as you get older.”
But Logie and other seniors will have more options, thanks to changes to British Columbia’s Community Care and Assisted Living Act.
“We want to be able to support people in homes, whether that’s in a private home or assisted living or residential care, so don’t end up in the acute care system,” health minister Terry Lake said at a media conference on Monday.
The changes are in response to concerns raised by B.C.’s seniors advocate, who found that about 15 per cent of seniors in residential care didn’t need to be there.
Under the old rules, independent seniors needing more than two assisted living services — such as medication management or a therapeutic diet — had to move to residential care, even if they didn’t need round-the-clock care.
By removing that limit, officials say seniors will have more of an opportunity to age in place.
“The changes will ensure seniors are not forced to leave their home prematurely and this legislation will also ensure there’s added protection for the most frail and vulnerable seniors,”says seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie
Under the changes, assisted living facilities can be inspected anytime there’s a concern instead of just when a complaint is filed.
Care providers say it could also help free up acute care beds.
“Seniors in an acute care facility needing care in their community will be able to do so in a more timely manor,” says Daniel Fontaine of the B.C. Care Providers Association.
Last fiscal year, health authorities spent more than $2.8 billion on health and community care and while the health minister admits these changes will increase assisted living costs, he says it should save money in the long run.
“What we’re doing is shifting the cost burden from the high priced acute facilities into the lower cost but more appropriate settings,” Lake says.
As for Logie, she’s just happy to have options.
“Most seniors want to be independent and have choices and not be forced into something you’re uncomfortable with.”