Seniors use gymnastics equipment for routines to improve their balance and flexibility, one of the programs developed to keep B.C.’s growing number of seniors active and independent. These programs have been suspended, seniors’ activity centres closed due to COVID-19. (Delta Gymnastics Society)

Seniors use gymnastics equipment for routines to improve their balance and flexibility, one of the programs developed to keep B.C.’s growing number of seniors active and independent. These programs have been suspended, seniors’ activity centres closed due to COVID-19. (Delta Gymnastics Society)

B.C. senior health indicators show strain as numbers grow

Wait times for long-term care continue to grow

Beyond the immediate threat of COVID-19 to B.C. seniors, some indicators of their overall health are improving as the number of baby boomers entering their retirement years continues to grow.

As demand for care continues to rise and the options for seniors to socialize and exercise have been reduced or eliminated, what remains to be seen is how severe the long-term impacts of the pandemic will be.

The survey shows there was a four per cent increase in the number of B.C. residents aged 65 and older, continuing a trend that has seen a 27 per cent increase in the past 10 years. The vast majority, 94 per cent, continue to live independently in their own homes, with three per cent in long-term care and three per cent in assisted living, a rate that has remained stable for the past five years.

The latest survey data are for the 2019-20 year ended in March, contained in the latest Monitoring Senior Services report produced annually by the office of B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie. Before the pandemic disrupted senior care operations and the rest of the world economy, the rising number of seniors needing care was already stretching resources and wait times.

RELATED: Increase in senior care home visits promised

RELATED: Still too many seniors in care homes, on drugs

The number of long-term care beds per thousand population aged 85 and up has decreased nine per cent in the past five years, with a 27 per cent increase in seniors on the wait list. The average wait time for admission to a facility was 52 days, and the number admitted within 30 days dropped by 11 per cent.

Health Minister Adrian Dix’s emphasis on reaching the provincial target of 3.36 hours a day of care has shown significant results, with the number of long-term care facilities funded to meet the target rising from 30 to 50 per cent compared to the previous year. All facilities owned by regional health authorities met the target, but only 22 per cent of contract facilities had met the goal in 2019-20.

The survey is released annually along with the Long-term Care Quick Facts Directory, used by families looking for senior care and evaluating each provincial facility. The latest survey shows progress made in reducing falls with injury in publicly funded facilities, but little progress made in reducing the use of anti-psychotic drugs, which Mackenzie has identified as too high.

There was also a 17 per cent increase in substantiated complaints related to the province’s licensing regulations for senior facilities, which are reported in the directory in greater detail this year.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsCoronavirus

Just Posted

Ashcroft hospital emergency closed sign, 2016. Photo credit: Barbara Roden
Ashcroft Hospital emergency department closed this weekend

Closure due to unexpected limited physician availabiliy, says Interior Health

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

Heidi Roy of the Cariboo Jade Shop in Cache Creek with the 3,000 jade boulder, which is now on secure display inside the shop. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Massive jade boulder returns to Cache Creek store six months after daring heist

The 3,000-pound boulder was stolen on Dec. 19, 2020 and found abandoned in the bush a week later

Dr. Albert de Villiers, chief medical health officer for the Interior Health Authority. (Contributed)
Child sex crimes charges against Interior’s top doc won’t impact pandemic response: Dix

Dr. Albert de Villiers is charged with sexual assault and sexual interference

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials watching U.K.’s Delta variant struggles, ‘may need to slow’ plan going forward

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

Most Read