BC government response to Ombudsperson’s report seriously inadequate: seniors care expert

February 16, 2012

(Vancouver) BC Ombudsperson Kim Carter’s report on the crisis in seniors care, released Wednesday, provides “an extraordinarily thorough, precise and do-able roadmap for rebuilding BC’s home and community care system,” says Marcy Cohen, a health researcher and author of numerous studies on seniors care for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. She is disappointed, however, with the government’s response. “The province has set out several small, positive steps, but overall, its plan for seniors care is drastically out of step with the seriousness of the crisis.”

“Above all else, what is needed now is leadership,” says Cohen. “The crisis in seniors care resulted from years of cuts, underfunding and the failure to provide needed oversight and coordination. It’s time for the province to step up and provide health authorities with the leadership and support required to ensure equitable access to services, and increase transparency and accountability.”

“On one level, the Ombudsperson’s report is shocking, given the disturbing portrait it paints of life for so many of this province’s elderly citizens,” says Cohen. “Sadly, however, many of the issues raised by the Ombudsperson have been noted by BC’s Auditor General, the Premier’s Council on Aging, the BC Medical Association, and numerous research studies.”

“Implementing the Ombudsperson’s roadmap would help BC’s growing population of seniors to live independently for longer, and respect seniors’ right to age and die with dignity,” says Cohen. “It would also go a long way to reducing strain in acute care, the most expensive part of the health care system. Many of the problems related to overcrowding and wait times in hospitals result from poor coordination and lack of access to home and community-based services.”


For interviews, contact:

Marcy Cohen - Research Associate, CCPA; Adjunct Faculty, SFU

Areas of expertise: Home and community care restructuring in BC from 2001 to present, the link between overcrowding and waitlists for hospital services and the shortfall in the home and community care. Phone: 604-255-0189

Other researchers with expertise in home and community care and geriatric care are also available for interviews:

Elisabeth Drance—Geriatric Psychiatrist, Dept. of Geriatric Psychiatry, UBC

Areas of expertise: Palliative Care, residential care staffing and quality standards, the use of anti-psychotic drugs in residential care, dementia care. Phone: 604-220-3848

Dawn Hemingway, Associate Professor, School of Social Work, UNBC

Areas of expertise: Non-medical home supports, care needs of northern seniors, older women’s health issues. Phone: 250-612-7997

Kim McGrail, Associate Director, Centre for Health Services and Policy Research; Assistant Professor, School of Population and Public Health, UBC

Areas of expertise:  the importance of standardized and accessible data and public reporting on the performance of the home and community care system; research on the adequacy BC’s home support services. Phone: 778-998-3821