Seniors looking for a long-term care facility now have the option of more choices and more time when it comes to making a decision.

Changes to policy mean seniors have more choice about long-term care

Seniors now able to choose three preferred care homes, and have more time to decide

B.C. seniors now have more choices—and more time—when it comes to choosing a long-term care facility.

The Ministry of Health has announced changes to its long-term care access policy, which will be in effect as of July 15, 2019. The changes mean that seniors will no longer be required to take the first available, appropriate long-term care bed that comes up.

Instead, the senior (or their family member) will be able to select up to three preferred care homes. While they are waiting for placement in their facility of choice, people will have the option to wait at home with additional supports, or go to an interim facility without losing their place on the wait list for their preferred facility.

The need for seniors to take the first available bed at a long-term care facility was established in policy 17 years ago, and families had 24 hours to make a decision or risk losing the bed and going to the bottom of the wait list. Seniors and their families now have up to three days to decide whether to take an available bed in one of their three preferred facilities.

The BC Care Providers Association (BCCPA) said in a statement that they have been advocating for these changes for some time.

“We feel that these adaptations will go a long way in giving seniors more choice in the care they receive, which is fundamental to person-centred care,” said BCCPA CEO Daniel Fontaine.

“For example, a senior may identify a care home that is closer to one of their children. That can reduce social isolation and improve overall quality of life.”

“I hear from seniors and their families around B.C. about wanting more choice in making long-term care decisions, and it’s great that we are moving forward with this change,” said Anne Kang, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors. “For seniors, this gives them the ability to choose a home that best meets their needs—whether that’s a home with the amenities they want, one that’s close to their family, or one that keeps them in the community they love.”

The changes will also mean that people who have been on a wait list the longest will get the highest priority when it comes to care home placements, and will ensure that seniors are providing their consent to live at a long-term care facility.

The Ministry of Health will also be moving away from outdated terminology. The term “residential care”—considered by some First Nations groups to be culturally inappropriate—will be changed to “long-term care”.

“Over the last few years, our organization has persistently made the call for more person-centred language in seniors’ care,” said Fontaine. “From abandoning the word facility—or as we call it, the ‘f-word’—to moving away from the term ‘residential care’, BCCPA has made efforts to bring awareness. While there is much more to be done, this is an important step forward.”

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