Report highlights need to provide greater supports to unpaid caregivers in seniors’ care in B.C.

"The report's emphasis on system-wide strategies speaks to the ability of paid and unpaid caregivers to reinforce each other's efforts if adequately supported." — Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President

Vancouver (06 Sept. 2017) — The B.C. Government & Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) commends the report released on September 5 by the Office of the Seniors Advocate, Caregivers in Distress: A Growing Problem. The report highlights a worrying trend of increased distress among unpaid caregivers, and makes recommendations to provide them with greater supports as the needs of B.C.'s aging population become increasingly complex.

BCGEU/NUPGE welcomes report detailing needs and challenges of unpaid caregivers

The BCGEU/NUPGE supports many of the recommendations in the report, such as increasing adult day-program access, increasing home support, as well as improving access to and streamlining the Choice in Supports for Independent Living program for those seniors with the ability to direct their own care.

"This thoughtful and detailed report takes up the task of shining a light on the critical work of unpaid caregivers and the challenges they are facing," says Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President. "Fortunately, B.C. has a large pool of Community Health Workers (CHWs) available with the skills and training necessary to support these caregivers, and enable the seniors' care sector to function more optimally."

Frontline BCGEU/NUPGE community health workers outspoken on how to increase support system-wide

BCGEU/NUPGE members working in long-term care have long spoken out about a range of problems affecting their ability to deliver quality care to seniors and how more support to informal caregivers would improve overall outcomes.

Support at the early stages of caregiving, for example, is critical, and home support workers have the ability to offer assistance and training in personal care, lifts and transfers, and monitoring health status — empowering caregivers with the confidence and skills they need to provide appropriate support. Respite care, also provided by a trained CHW, ensures peace of mind for the caregiver taking a break, enabling them to relieve stress and to strengthen their ability to be a caregiver.

"The report's emphasis on system-wide strategies speaks to the ability of paid and unpaid caregivers to reinforce each other's efforts if adequately supported," says Smith. "We hope the provincial government will take a similarly systemic approach as it plans new programs to benefit seniors and provide them with dignified quality care."

The BCGEU/NUPGE represents over 16,000 workers in various health care 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