by Sherrin Griffin, Sidney SeniorCare –
Last month, we discussed how lifestyle needs may change as we age, leading to the re-evalution of our living situation. We talked about the option of home support or moving to a well-appointed retirement community or assisted living facility, as well as touched on private-pay vs. subsidized options, including programs such as Independent Living BC (ILBC) and Seniors’ Supportive Housing.
According to B.C.’s Seniors’ Advocate, currently in our province almost 95% of seniors live at home, with only a small portion receiving government-subsidized home support. The remaining percentage is made up of residential care seniors with complex care issues, largely subsidized; and the last few percent living in assisted living facilities, approximately 20% of which are subsidized.
If you do choose, or your health necessitates, to move to a facility offering independent and/or assisted living services, making the right choice can be overwhelming.
Here are some tips to help you choose/advocate for the most suitable facility for you or your loved one:
• Make a list of available facilities (including ones recommended by Island Health and others that you may be aware of). Call the facilities and get an overview of what they offer to their residents.
• Tour the facilities that you’re interested in and meet with the staff/representatives responsible for care and services.
• Research the provider of the facility. Check out their background, experience and track record. If a non-government provider, are they a member of the BC Care Providers Association (BCCPA)? Look into unsolicited referrals and reviews.
• Does the facility meet your budget requirements? Is it subsidized? Make sure you understand the fee schedule: what exactly it includes and services that may be excluded, and how often the fees may increase.
• Are there safety and security measures in place such as sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers, and security measures for those who have dementia or Alzheimer’s. What is the staff to resident ratio? How is staff expertise/accreditation measured and is ongoing training a priority?
• Do the services and amenities meet your needs and wants? Are there qualified medical personnel on staff? Is the meal schedule reasonable and flexible? Are all desired services onsite? What kinds of activities are offered – onsite and/or offsite?
Last month, we touched on how seniors with care needs that can’t be managed in their own homes are often given little choice in where they would be placed. Exciting new legislation from the province, effective July 15, deems that seniors and their families will now be able to select up to three care homes of their choice, and if they don’t get their first choice, they can keep their spot on the waiting list while receiving home support or relocation to another facility temporarily. Essentially, seniors no longer have to move to the first bed that opens up. The new legislation also requires consent from an adult to move them into a care home. These changes will give seniors more of a voice in where they want to live, rather than penalizing them for turning down the next available bed or facility that they don’t want to go to.
In a province where seniors 65 and over make up just under one million of the population and which is projected to skyrocket to over 1.5 million in the next 20 years, these are encouraging “wins” in our mission to provide quality care and housing for our aging population.