THE families of children and youth with physical disabilities and other complex care needs will receive more help to pay for the medical equipment they need to live at home through a $10-million funding increase to medical equipment benefits under the At Home Program.
“For too long, families with children and youth with support needs have had to make difficult choices as the At Home Program has not kept pace with rising equipment costs,” said Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development, on Monday. “This is the first significant funding increase to At Home Program medical equipment benefits in over 20 years and it will help save families thousands of dollars on the equipment their children need.”
The At Home Program provides medical equipment and respite assistance for approximately 4,600 B.C. children and youth with highly complex care needs. The program provides a range of basic, medically necessary equipment and supplies to support and assist children and youth to live at home. Beginning in April 2022, families will be eligible to receive more financial support to buy specialized equipment, such as wheelchairs, walkers and beds.
“Children and youth with complex care needs deserve to be supported to live full lives at home with their families,” said Dan Coulter, Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility and vice-chair of the Minister’s Advisory Council for Children and Youth with Support Needs. “This investment will help more children receive the in-home medical equipment they need, easing some of the pressure on families throughout B.C.”
Under the current At Home Program benefit allowance, walkers, standing frames and other equipment that help with hip development and bone strength are funded to a maximum of $3,200 total, while the market cost for a standing frame alone can range from $5,700 to $6,000. This new investment will help significantly lower the costs of medical equipment for children and youth in B.C.
“This is a welcome announcement after an incredible week of British Columbians showing their support for kids across the province,” said Cally Wesson, CEO, Variety – the Children’s Charity. “It’s not easy for families who have a child with special needs to be able to afford the specialized equipment they require. We have parents who are choosing between buying groceries and paying for a piece of essential equipment. The success of Variety Week and this announcement means that children are going to get what they need to thrive while parents can focus on their kids, instead of having to worry about the financial burden of costly equipment.”
Aligning in-home equipment funding with actual costs is one part of the ongoing work the Province says it is doing to improve the system of services for children and youth with support needs and their families.
* At Home Program medical benefits provide the basic, medically necessary equipment and supplies, including:
– alternate positioning devices, such as standing frames;
– bathing and toileting aids;
– hospital beds and mattresses;
– orthotics and splints;
– dental/orthodontic and optical benefits;
– medical transportation;
– prescription medication;
– mobility equipment, such as wheelchairs;
– specialized car seats;
– and therapeutic equipment, such floor therapy mats.
* In 2019, over 39% of families reported paying at least $5,000 a year out of pocket, with some paying more than $10,000.
* Approximately 30,000 children and youth with support needs are accessing services offered through the Ministry of Children and Family Development and its contracted service providers.