In February the British Columbia government received a 216-page report on seniors care. In it are 176 recommendations covering home care, assisted living and residential care. It is the second major report on senior’s care in that province since 2009. Both reports were investigated and prepared by the BC Ombudsperson.
BC walks the talk on integration: the Ombudsperson includes many recommendations to bring consistency to seniors’ care in that province.
It also makes important recommendations around mandatory staffing standards — something Ontario has resisted for years. The BC Ombudsperson pointed out the inconsistency between the province’s handling of vulnerable seniors and vulnerable children, of which there are measurable staff-to-children ratios for child care facilities but not for seniors’ care.
The BC Ombudsperson says the regional health authorities were asked to work towards a staffing level of 3.36 direct care hours per resident per day, but failed to achieve it despite a new residential rate structure that was introduced in 2010.
By comparison, Ontario maintains that its nursing homes have an average of 3.0 hours of care per resident per day, but Ontario counts paid hours, not direct care hours. Nor is any of this made mandatory by legislation.
As the BC Ombudsperson points out, “measuring the hours that staff provide direct care is more precise than measuring the number of staff hours because it accounts for the fact that not all staff provide direct care, and the even those who do also have other duties to perform.”
In Ontario the Ombudsman’s office is shut out from investigating long-term care homes. Andre Marin points out that the Ombudsman has authority over long-term care in most other provinces.