More care workers needed to help B.C. seniors feel at home

“We look forward to meeting with the government to make sure that the significant investment negotiated with Ottawa by the previous government will go into addressing these issues.” — Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President

Vancouver (25 Sept. 2017) — On September 15, Isobel Mackenzie, the Seniors Advocate of B.C., published the results of a comprehensive study on the state of care homes in B.C. The report shows in no uncertain terms what many families, seniors, and care workers have been raising with government for some time now: basic standards in care homes are not being met.

Report confirms concerns in seniors' care

“I can’t imagine how heartbreaking it must be for everyone involved to know there are people out there suffering. Without adequate resources or staffing to support them, seniors are feeling isolated and trapped in what is supposed to be their own home,” said Stephanie Smith, President of the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE). “When so many seniors are reporting not experiencing adequate levels of basic personal hygiene, human interaction, and freedom, it means there are serious concerns for their quality of life.”

This study reinforces the call by care workers for increased staffing so that basic standards of care can be met. Meeting the basic standards of care is the first recommendation made by Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie in her report. It is important to acknowledge that simply increasing training cannot solve the core issue. Instead, the government must address the staffing ratios between full-time staff and residents in care homes that currently does not allow for adequate care to be provided to all. 

Government must commit resources to implement recommendations 

B.C. seniors and their families have identified significant lapses in emotional support, and isolation as key areas for improvement. Important quality of life aspects such as decent meals, social activities, and meaningful social interactions are left wanting or simply non-existent. While we know that workers are struggling trying to meet standards and the needs of residents, at the current staffing levels it is not possible to achieve any of the report’s 8 recommendations.

“For the report’s 8 recommendations to be implemented, the government needs to commit significant resources to bringing in more workers to improve the quality of life for seniors. Last year, the government promised to hire 1,500 new health workers as part of a half a billion-dollar investment in seniors’ care,” recalled Smith. “We look forward to meeting with the government to make sure that the significant investment negotiated with Ottawa by the previous government will go into addressing these issues.”

BCGEU/NUPGE members working in the sector have been advocating for better standards of care for quite some time through their Seniors Deserve Better Campaign. They have been petitioning government, and raising awareness of this issue.

The BCGEU/NUPGE represents over 73,000 workers in British Columbia, including over 16,000 workers in various health sectors.

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE