For this 2020 provincial election, we need your help keeping candidates accountable on ensuring home care and home support are made robust parts of the seniors' care system. Below are some key questions you can ask candidates during the election:
1. Do you support public funding of home support services for all seniors with low and moderate incomes who need assistance to live safely in their own homes?
2. Do you support regulation of private home support providers?
3. Do you support the provision of paid training for home support workers?
Background: The reality of home support
According to public opinion polls, most seniors would prefer to live at home for as long as possible and almost all (96 percent) manage to do so. Public policies also affirm support for seniors in their desire to live at home. Unfortunately, as the BC Seniors Advocate notes in a 2019 report titled Home Support: We Can Do Better, the rhetoric and the reality are different. The reality is that government-provided home support is unaffordable for most seniors. For example, a senior with an income of $27,800 is expected to pay $8,800 a year for a once-daily home support visit.
Only about 3 per cent of seniors access government-funded home support services. Eligibility for this service is clearly very restricted. The vast majority of seniors who need assistance to live safely in their own homes must pay for private, unregulated home support services. One outcome, according to the BC Seniors Advocate, is that about 15 per cent of seniors who could function quite well in the community with some support are in publicly-funded long-term care.
The Seniors Advocate also found that although the number of seniors has grown by 22 per cent, the number of home support clients has only increased by 15 per cent, and that the rate of home support hours for age 85 and older had decreased 10.3 per cent in the last 5 years.
Home support is often dependent entirely on volunteer family care-givers. It may also be delivered by a private agency accountable only to its owners. Although home support may also be delivered by a non- profit agency receiving some public funding, public accountability is indirect. For example, the United Way funds non-profits with government funding to deliver volunteer and contracted home support services to some seniors with payment based on income.
Publicly-provided home support and home care services are overseen by the five regional Health Authorities in BC. Their definitions of what constitutes home care and what is home support varies somewhat. However, in general, home care refers to professional care provided by, for example, a physician, nurse, physiotherapist or occupational therapist without cost to the senior and usually for a short period of time.
Home support services overseen by the regional health authorities are based on strict eligibility requirements for the services and provided by community health care workers to clients who require personal assistance with the activities of daily living including "mobilization, nutrition, lifts and transfers, bathing, cueing, grooming and toileting, and may include safety maintenance activities as a supplement to personal assistance when appropriate, as well as specific nursing and rehabilitation tasks delegated by health-care professionals."
The delivery of home support has been fragmented as it is for LTC., and is usually contracted out to for-profit groups or non-profits which provide precarious contracted employment for the workers. However, on July 20, 2019, after lobbying for two decades to bring home care support workers under government employment, BCGEU announced that three health authorities would bring home support service in-house.
You can download a PDF to print containing the questions and information above by clicking HERE.
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Other ways you can share the information:
- Distribute the information below and questions above to each candidate in your riding. Share their responses in local newspapers, on your website, through social media sites, and/or in a mailing to your organization’s membership.
- Most ridings will be holding virtual Town Halls and Public Forums where candidates can be provided with information and asked questions on the issues. Because participants are usually limited to the number of questions they can ask, it may be necessary to identify in advance which issues are your priorities.
- Provide the information to your contact list (members, supporters, friends) and encourage them to get in touch with their candidates by email, by telephone, or in person