The provincial government has announced it’s committing more than $12.8 million this year to increase staffing levels at residential senior care facilities.
Health Minister Adrian Dix made the announcement at Surrey’s Harrison Elim Village on Tuesday morning, saying the funding commitment for the 2018-19 year will mean 1,500 staff are to be hired to “ensure that seniors get the care they need.”
“Our government is delivering on our commitment to improve seniors’ care and have increased staffing for seniors’ care in the Lower Mainland, with approximately 288,000 more direct-care hours to be provided in these three communities this fiscal year alone. It is clear action is being taken to meet this target,” said Dix.
The minister said the “additional hours are going to make a huge difference in the quality of life of seniors in this region.”
Dix said this year’s “initial investment” is one of a three-year plan to increase the direct care seniors receive around the province. A release notes the government aims to “reach the target 3.36 care hours per-resident day, on average across health authorities, by 2021.”
“This standard of care for long-term care residents was set over a decade ago and was not being achieved,” said Dix. “Under the plan that Premier John Horgan announced earlier this year, we are taking clear action towards meeting the target of 3.36 care hours per-resident day.”
Fraser Health CEO Dr. Victoria Lee welcomed the news.
“Seniors are the foundation of our communities and they deserve to receive high quality care when they transition to living in a residential care facility,” said Lee. “This investment allows staff working in facilities throughout our region to better meet the needs of residents and their families as they enter this next phase of their lives. We thank the provincial government for their commitment to supporting seniors across the province and specifically in Fraser Health, as well as the people who deliver services to them.”
Provincial officials say the roughly $12.8-million investment in care hours for Delta, Langley and Surrey is part of the $48.4 million being allocated to health authorities in 2018-19 to fund over one million more hours of direct care throughout the province.
In the 23 homes that have received funding in communities, officials say approximately 125,000 additional direct care hours were provided by the end of September 2018.
“People living in residential care and their families expect to receive the best day-to-day assistance possible. By making this investment, we are working to raise the quality of life seniors have in their residential care homes,” said Dix.
Dix told reporters that there are 29,000 long-term public funded beds in B.C. He noted three out of 10 are operated by health authorities, while the remaining seven are operated by private, for-profit companies.
The Jan. 8 government release announcing the $12.8 million in funding highlighted other health care commitments the government has made, including “dramatically increasing” the volume of MRIs within Fraser Health (with 8,500 additional scan being performed this fiscal year, bringing the total to 63,000); the 2018 opening of the Surrey Urgent Primary Care Centre that’s hoped to ease congestion at Surrey Memorial Hospital’s emergency room; as well as concept planning that’s underway for a new Surrey hospital.
Meantime, Dix noted that last year Premier John Horgan committed to seeing another hospital built in Surrey and that the concept plan, being overseen by Lee, was launched in December 2017.
“We committed to that, the premier committed to a second hospital in Surrey. The concept plan is going well,” Dix said. “Dr. Lee is leading that initiative, I am very confident. We are fully intending to deliver on that second hospital that’s needed in this community. There’s some challenges, I say delicately, in a totally non-political way. The previous government did sell, for reasons passing undertstanding, a Surrey site in Surrey that would have been very valuable to us, but we think we can get there and we’ll have more to say about it soon.”
– files by Tom Zytaruk