The surge of post-war baby boomers into their senior years is opening a wide gap in need for long-term care capacity, says a new report by the B.C. Care Providers Association.
The association released a report Wednesday showing 1,400 people in B.C. waiting for long-term care by March 2018, a seven per cent increase over the previous year. Three quarters of those people were living in the community, with the remainder in hospital awaiting placement.
“Our analysis of data provided by the Conference Board of Canada shows that B.C. is already short by roughly 3,000 long-term care beds,” said Daniel Fontaine, the association CEO. “Now factor in a requirement for another 1,000 to 2,000 additional spaces per year until 2035, and you can see the scale of the challenge.”
The report calculates that more than 30,000 new long-term beds are needed in B.C. over the next 20 years, staffed by 19,000 new care providers, 13,000 of them care aides to help residents who can no longer do the daily tasks of living on their own.
B.C.’s Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie reported the seven-per-cent increase in those waiting for long-term care in December, in her latest survey Monitoring Senior Services. It estimated that the longest median wait time was in the Northern Health region, at 147 days, and the shortest was Vancouver Coastal Health at 14 days.
The report shows B.C. long-term care residents have a higher incidence of dementia than the national average, roughly tied with Ontario at more than 60 per cent of residents.
Two years into his mandate, Health Minister Adrian Dix has been focused on adding care aide capacity to bring senior care hours up to the provincial target of 3.36 hours per day in existing facilities. Interior Health received $5.3 million last year to increase staffing, part of a three-year plan to reach the target by 2021.
Fontaine said it is surprising that B.C. has had only one successful bid to develop new publicly funded long-term care in the past two years. The ministry announced in January it is proceeding with a 150-bed facility in Courtenay, including six hospice beds for end-of-life care, with occupancy expected by 2020.
According to the B.C. Seniors Advocate’s latest long-term care directory, B.C.’s 293 long-term care facilities have 27,028 publicly subsidized beds, with more than 18,000 beds operated by contractors funded by a regional health authority and the rest operated directly by health authorities.