Tuesday, May 8, 2012

New Information on BC Seniors Care ...

Hi everyone - just a note to let you know that this week, (May 8-11), CBC Radio 1, CBC TV and CBC online are presenting a special series on Big Business in Seniors Care, an investigation into who is profiting, how best to navigate the system and the realities of residential care.

This series should be of interest to anyone with a stake in the care of the aging (-and that should be all of us.). We are all aging, ourselves, and we all know and care about someone who is a "senior". Do take a look at the schedule below to see if you can tune in to one of these special programs or, alternatively, look at the CBC website at www.cbc.ca to catch up on programs you've missed.

Tuesday May 8: The Early Edition - 6:40 am

Business in Vancouver's Joel McKay will join us for a look at the Big Business of seniors care. We'll find out who's winning and who's losing in the push to a profit from a demographic tide.

BC Almanac - 12:30 pm

Margaret MacGregor of the UBC Faculty of Medicine has done research that shows for-profit companies deliver inferior care for seniors. David Hurford of the BC Care Providers Association says for profits serve a crucial role in the system. They'll discuss the  issues and take listener calls on BC Almanac at 12:30.

CBC News Vancouver: 6pm on CHEK and after hockey on CBC Television

The reality of residential care. Who's paying what and the role of private operators in the public system.

Wednesday May 9: The Early Edition - 6:40 am

For Rebecca Maurer the sandwich generation experience came sooner than expected. The Early Edition's Geoff Turner shares her emotional experience in the worlds of public and private seniors care.

CBC News Vancouver: 6pm on CHEK and after hockey on CBC Television

Navigating the system. What is the process when a person needs residential care? How do you choose the best option?

Thursday May 10: The Early Edition - 6:40 am

The system of seniors care can be a nightmare to navigate. But that struggle has produced another business opportunity. Rick Cluff will talk to Barbara Kirby and learn just what a "Certified Professional Consultant on Aging" does for seniors.

CBC News Vancouver: 6 pm on CHEK and after hockey on CBC Television

BC's Ombudsperson has issued hundreds of recommendations to improve the system. What is the government's response?  CBC News Vancouver at 6pm on CHEK Channel 6 and after hockey on CBC television.

Friday May 11: The Early Edition - 7:10 am

All week we've heard about the difficulties of the system of seniors care. On Friday, Rick talks to Health Minister Mike de Jong about what the government is doing to make the system work. We'll get his thoughts on the role of private business in seniors care  and we'll learn how the province is responding to the Ombudsperson's calls to action on senior's issues.  CBC News Vancouver: 6pm on CHEK and after hockey on CBC Television Campuses of care. How to plan for the future so increasing health care needs don't  mean uprooting your life.
To see extended the video and an interactive map of long-term care facilities in the Lower Mainland, go to cbc.ca/bc

Another item of interest to seniors and those who support them is the latest article by Rob Vipond at Victoria, BC's, FocusOnline magazine. (You may recall his previous piece on the use of antipsychotic medication for chemical restraint in the elderly in BC.)

The current article focuses on the provincial Ombudsperson's report, The Best of Care: Getting It Right for Seniors in British Columbia (Part 2), and the need for increased government tracking and public reporting regarding funding and services in a very confusing system, more consistency in who is permitted to provide care, and an up-to-date web portal for displaying basic resources, assistance, and facilities so people can compare options in cost, staff qualifications, and inspection histories.

As Vipond says,

The ombudsperson's report becomes most disturbing as it identifies the severe dearth of legal or professional standards for either staff or facilities, whether public, private or mixed. Reviewing just a fraction of these findings, the report reveals that there are no enforceable standards for staff qualifications or staff numbers in residential care. Care aides receive no standardized training, and in private facilities need 't have criminal or abuse histories checked. There are no legal standards in residential care for bathing frequency, dental care, regularity of assistance with getting to the bathroom, call-bell response times, meal preparation and nutrition, or resident rights to even have visitors let alone informed consent to medications.
Like a rusty ship's hull springing new leaks with every movement, these worrying, eye-opening findings compound upon each other page after page. In assisted living, there are no legally binding standards for staffing, residents rights, food safety and nutrition or emergencies, and residents can be evicted with no notice, without appeal. (Government wrote improvements to these tenancy laws 15 years ago, but hasn't enacted them.) There are no legal quality of care standards for home support services. Extended care hospitals are not subject to routine, independent inspections-most have not been inspected in years - and aren't subject to any legal standards for hygiene, emergency preparedness, nutrition, general living conditions, or administration of medication. (Government developed legislation to correct this 9 years ago, but has not enacted it.)
"I think what is demonstrated here is the result of a number of years of movement from objective regulatory standards to outcomes," says Carter. "So essentially, as currently worded, the standards tend to be things such as, 'You need to have adequate staff. You need to ensure that staff are properly trained.' ... The difficulty is, how do you know when there's inadequate staff and inadequate training? ... Does that mean there should be a registered nurse on, or not?"
In contrast, her report shows a table of the precise, legislated staff qualifications and staff-to-child ratios for daycare centres. "In children's care, it's really clear," she explains. "You say, here are vulnerable children, and we're not going to just say 'adequate'.  We know that there's a certain number of staff that you've got to have. Some seniors in residential care, indeed perhaps a not insignificant percentage, are just as vulnerable." 
In that regard, one finding is particularly haunting: There are no legal requirements for health professionals to report outright abuse or neglect of seniors to anyone. "Again, the example is young children, where there is an obligation," comments Carter. "The people who are providing (seniors care) are dealing with a pre-qualified group who've got physical frailty or cognitive impairment or both, and it makes sense to say you really should be reporting if you think that they're abused and neglected."
To continue reading, go to FocusOnline ...
To find the full ombudsperson's report, go to www.ombudsman.bc.ca.

Much important food for thought ... and, hopefully, for action!

**  Thank you to Kathleen Hamilton at the BC Association of Advocates for Care Reform for keeping me up-to-date with happenings on the residential care front. Their website is worth a look and their cause is worth your support.

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