THE Ministry of Health is changing how people access long-term care to make the process more client-centred, consistent and fair and to ensure seniors have greater choice in where they live.
Effective July 15, seniors and their families will be able to review their options and choose up to three preferred care homes. People no longer have to accept the first available bed and can make more informed choices about where to live. Wait lists will be standardized and managed consistently. While they are waiting for placement in their facility of choice, people will have the option to wait at home with additional supports, or go to an interim facility.
“The decision to move into a long-term care home can be stressful for people and families,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “People want to be able to choose a home that works for them and their families and until now that choice has not always been available. The Ministry of Health is making changes to give people more flexibility in choosing their preferred care home, give them more time to make these important decisions and provide them with the information they need to make an informed choice.”
These changes are a result of revisions to the Long-term Care Access Policy and Health Care (Consent) and Care Facility (Admission) Act (HCCCFAA) and will give people more of a voice – requiring facilities to obtain consent for admission to a care facility. The changes will also create more choice providing people more information up front about long-term care homes, including wait times, so they can make an informed choice that works for them.
“I hear from seniors and their families around B.C. about wanting more choice in making long-term care decisions, and it’s great that we are moving forward with this change,” said Anne Kang, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors. “For seniors, this gives them the ability to choose a home that best meets their needs – whether that’s a home with the amenities they want, one that’s close their family or one that keeps them in the community they love.”
The revisions to the policy will ensure that people who have been on the waitlist the longest will have the highest priority to be placed in a care home, with few exceptions. While a person is waiting for availability in one of their preferred care homes, they will have more time to accept or decline a move into an interim care home. In addition, the majority of people will no longer have to wait in a hospital for an assessment but will now be better supported while waiting for an assessment at home.
In addition, an Order in Council was passed this spring to bring Part 3 of the HCCCFAA and associated regulations into force. Part 3 of the HCCCFAA formally establishes the requirement for consent to be sought and obtained for adults being admitted into care facilities (by the person or their formal representative).
“The changes to the long-term care access policy and the HCCCFAA make accessing long term care more people-centred, transparent, consistent and equitable,” Dix said.
The HCCCFA was introduced in 1993. Part 3 remained promulgated and then was amended in 2007 by the prior government through Bill 26. The 2012 ombudspersons report on seniors care recommended steps be taken to bring it into force.
The changes also officially formalize the process for admissions to ensure an individual provides consent to a long-term care home. It will establish the means of appointing a substitute decision maker when a person has been has been assessed by a health-care provider or medical practitioner as being incapable of making a decision. If a family member or friend is not available, a public guardian and trustee will choose, or act as, a substitute decision maker.
Revisions to the long care access policy also address recommendations made by the seniors advocate in her housing report from 2015.
These changes, and promulgation of Part 3 of the HCCCFAA are part of government’s commitment to strengthen the supports and services available to seniors. Government is investing more than $1 billion by 2021 to improve care for seniors, including investments in primary care, home health, long-term care and assisted living. This will include $75 million over the next three years to expand respite care adult day programs and $240 million by 2021 to increase the direct care seniors receive to 3.36 hours per resident-day, on average, in each health authority, by 2021.
More educational spaces for health-care assistants are being created in 11 post-secondary institutions across B.C. to help support this, and through the Health Sector Statutes Repeal Act, continuity of care for seniors will improve with strengthened job security and stability for health-care staff.
* In 2019, 19% of B.C.’s population is over 65. In 15 years, this percentage is expected to rise to 25%.
* As of March 31, 2019, there were 27,954 publicly subsidized long-term care beds in the province.