Government moves to improve assisted-living rules

Proposed amendments will give more choice to seniors when it comes to residential care options, says B.C.'s senior's advocate.

Amendments to the Community Care and Assisted Living Act introduced Monday by Health Minister Terry Lake will mean better care options and added protection for those in assisted-living residences says the B.C. government.

“As the seniors advocate noted in her report on housing last year, many seniors have had to transfer to residential care sooner than necessary because of the existing rules,” said Lake.

“We recognize that the needs of people in assisted-living residences can vary and they require more flexibility to stay in this more home-like setting longer.”

“These amendments mean a loved one may be able to remain in assisted living,” said parliamentary secretary for seniors Darryl Plecas. “Time and again, I’ve heard from seniors that they prefer to stay as independent as long as possible and these changes will give them that opportunity.”

Assisted-living residences offer housing, hospitality services such as meals and prescribed services including medication management, as well as assistance to adults who can live independently but require some help  with daily activities. The majority of residents in assisted living are seniors. Accommodations range from private rooms in a home, to an apartment-style building with suites.

Residential-care homes provide 24-hour professional care and supervision in a protective, supportive environment for those with complex care needs and can no longer be cared for in their own homes or in an assisted-living residence.

Currently, residents who require more than two of the six prescribed services that may be offered in assisted living are expected to move to a residential-care home.

These include:

• assistance with daily living activities, such as eating, mobility,

dressing or personal hygiene;

• medication management;

• therapeutic diets;

• financial management;

• intensive rehabilitation therapy; and

• behavioural management.

The amendments remove the limit on the services, allowing assisted-living residents to remain in their home-like setting and access a variety of care.

“This is a very positive move in the direction of increasing choices for seniors as they age. Assisted living offers independence, while providing care only to the level that is needed by the individual senior. Removing

some of the arbitrary barriers that existed under the previous legislation will be welcomed by many seniors,” said B.C. seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie, who recommended the change in her 2015 report on seniors housing.

Her comments were echoed by Daniel Fontaine, chief executive officer, B.C. Care Providers’ Association..

“We applaud the government for responding to one of the recommendations we made last fall,” said Fontaine. “The move to provide flexibility regarding assisted living is a good first step in responding to the needs of a growing seniors population in our province.”

Other amendments increase regulatory oversight for assisted-living residences.

Currently, the assisted living registrar, who has a mandate to protect the health and safety of assisted-living residents, may only inspect a residence in the event of a complaint. The new rules permit the registrar to inspect a residence at any time to determine if there is a risk to the health and safety of a resident.

The government’s move also responds to reports from the Mckenzie and B.C.’s ombudsperson to improve service options for those individuals in assisted-living residences.

Consultation on proposed new regulations will take place over the spring and summer with assisted-living residence operators.

 

 

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