Provincial funding for residential care to ease pressure on care aides

By Jill Sperling
March 1, 2019 - 4:27pm Updated: March 1, 2019 - 5:23pm

KAMLOOPS — With the average life expectancy increasing in Canada, more seniors are in need of long-term residential care. 

But, with a shortage of staffing for seniors care in B.C., it has become a struggle to ensure everyone gets the care they deserve. 

"Sometimes you just get scared, you know, because it's like, have I paid enough attention to this lady? Have I spent enough time with this man? You don't get to spend that time." 

Rita Stanchfield is a care aide at the Hamlets at Westsyde, which has received a funding increase of $242,000 from the provincial government for 2018-19. 

"It means being able to spend time with our residents. It gives us more people coming in, more care aides coming in and working with us."

The Hamlets is one of 31 Interior Health facilities benefiting from a $5.3 million investment, including Ridgeview Lodge, Pine Grove Lodge, Kamloops Seniors Village and Brocklehurst Gemstone Care. 

Health Minister Adrian Dix was in Kamloops to make the announcement, saying the funds will support care aides and the important role they play in the healthcare system. 

"I think it's been recognized that we do not have enough staff in long-term care and the government recognizes this," Dix said. "In 2009, they said that we needed to have to meet minimum standards 3.36 hours per-resident day, that was the figure, that was the statistic. Eight years later when I became Minister of Health, the number of care homes in B.C. that met that standard was 10 per cent."

Friday's funding announcement is part of a three-year investment of $240 million to increase direct care hours for seniors in each health authority to the target of an average of 3.36 hours per-resident day. 

"$50 million in the year that we're in, $80 million next year, and $100 million in the third year. And remember, because you're raising the base, the 50 we're giving this year is also in the second and third year," Dix said. "It takes that to get to 3.36 (hours). And that's 1,500 new care staff, 900 of them care aides."

For care aides like Stanchfield, the promise of more care aides is a source of hope. 

"Yes, hope," she said. "Wonderful hope."

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