VANCOUVER, Sept. 23, 2015 /CNW/ - Demand for seniors' housing in British Columbia is outpacing supply as more seniors opt for homes in Independent Living communities across the province, but not enough is being done to understand the longer-term health and housing needs of seniors who will make up close to 25 per cent of B.C.'s total population within the next 25 years, according to a new report by the BC Seniors Living Association (BCSLA).
The report will be released this weekend at the BCSLA's annual conference in Whistler. Among its recommendations, the report calls on the provincial and municipal governments to support the development of more Independent Housing and Assisted Living as a cost-effective alternative to residential care.
It also recommends improved planning and implementation of home health services provided by the Ministry of Health and the Health Authorities to residents of Independent Living communities to allow them to remain in the communities for as long as possible.
There are approximately 355,700 people in B.C. over the age of 75 of which 8.2 per cent live in seniors' residences.
BCSLA President Carole Holmes says improved utilization and expansion of B.C.'s Independent Living and Assisted Living sectors to accommodate residents with a broader range of health and social needs could reduce reliance on more costly institutional care.
"The BC Seniors Advocate, Isobel Mackenzie, reported recently that up to 15 per cent of our seniors living in residential care — that's as many as 4,400 people — may be incorrectly housed and that Assisted Living or community care might be more appropriate for them and a better use of resources," says Ms. Holmes. "Ms. Mackenzie noted that many of these seniors have lower care needs than residential care is designed to accommodate and could be cared for in other settings either at home with support, or in Assisted Living residences, and we at BCSLA agree."
In the past, says Ms. Holmes, residential care was the primary housing and care option for people who needed additional care and support, but increasing costs and a shortage of publicly subsidized residential care facilities led to the development of publicly subsidized Assisted Living facilities in the province.
"Since 2004 there's been a dramatic increase in the number of both Independent Living and Assisted Living units, which are often located in the same development and provide many benefits for their residents," she adds. "But the time has come to take a fresh look at the services available to seniors and how we provide them."
For example, the Ministry of Health could explore regulatory and policy options to give registered Assisted Living facilities a more flexible approach to what services are provided to residents and how they are provided.
"Expanding the range of services we are permitted to provide could allow residents to return from hospital sooner and free up beds for other patients, or delay their admission to residential care facilities, which could reduce costs," says Ms. Holmes.
Private pay and publicly subsidized housing and care options for seniors in B.C. include:
A full copy of the report is available on the BCSLA website at www.bcsla.ca
The BC Seniors Living Association currently represents 110 companies that own and operate 162 Independent and Assisted living facilities across the province. BCSLA members account for 60 per cent of the total Independent Living and Assisted Living units in B.C., providing 14,650 Independent Living and publicly-funded and private pay Assisted Living suites. For more information visit www.bcsla.ca
SOURCE BC Seniors Living Association
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