Provincial changes mean Victoria senior has to pay 46% more to live at mental health home

Watch In August the province announced better care for people living in mental health and substance use recovery homes. But a Victoria family now says those changes are having devastating consequences for the seniors who live in those homes. April Lawrence reports.

Dianne Sharp has been looking after her brother’s affairs for years. 68-year-old Dave Sharp lives with severe mental health issues and is now battling some serious health issues as well.

He lives at the Wascana mental health group home which is run by Island Health. Last week Dianne Sharp was told by the manager her brother’s daily fees have now skyrocketed.

“I immediately went can they even do this? If it wasn’t the government, it wouldn’t be legal,” Sharp said. “It’s like a worst-case scenario really.”

In August, the province announced it would be increasing rates for supportive recovery homes.

For those in registered mental health and substance use homes it would go up 16 per cent from $30.90/day to $35.90/day, for a licensed substance use home it would increase 12.5 per cent from $40 to $45, and for a mental health home like Dave Sharp’s, it would increase 46 per cent from $30.90 to $45/day. The changes took effect October 1st.

“To me this is just such a low blow to people who are already lost,” said Sharp.

The Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction said the increase was needed to address cost pressures facing recovery facilities and to increase the quality of care for clients. For anyone on social assistance the increase would be covered directly by the province. But for people like Dave Sharp, who was cut off social assistance when he turned 65, it will have to be paid out of pocket.

According to his sister who handles his finances, Dave Sharp’s old age pension is about $1580 a month. His room and board before the provincial changes was $958 a month but the facility says he’ll now owe $1395, more than $400 a month more.

That will leave him with just $185/month for things like toiletries, clothing, and coffee. He also has to pay to take the handyDART bus to dialysis three times a week.

“They also have to leave people a minimum of a life, it doesn’t matter how much you give them there’s a thing called quality of life which I’m trying to give him the best he can,” said Sharp.

A Ministry of Health spokesperson says now that it’s been brought to their attention they are looking into the issue and confirm someone will be reaching out to the family.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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