png-merlin-archive9The Vancouver Sun’s Bethany Lindsay describes  B.C. Seniors’ Advocate Isobel Mackenzie  release of information that 27 per cent of residents in care homes in the province are being given anti psychotic medication without a diagnosis. The three care homes most overly medicating their clients without a diagnosis are in Metro Vancouver, with one, the Youville Residence in Vancouver medicating over 62 per cent of residents without a diagnosis. Anti psychotic medications can make people aggressive, and also contribute to drowsiness and subsequent falls, but can also make the patient easier for staff to manage.

Not only is overmedicating without a proper diagnosis a problem, the Seniors’ Advocate also reported that for staffing “no private for profit facilities meet the minimum standard as established by the Ministry of Health.” NONE.

Ninety-one per cent of care homes listed in the B.C. seniors advocate’s Residential Care Facilities Quick Facts failed to meet the ministry guidelines of 3.36 hours a day of care for each senior in 2015-2016.”  While care facilities that are run by health authorities may have frailer individuals requiring more care, the minimum standard is there to provide consistency of service .  Minister of Health Terry Lake suggests that this standard is “a planning guide…not every facility necessarily will need that level of care because people have different levels of need.”

The B.C. Care Providers Association has called for a 337 million dollar annual investment in seniors’ care, noting that The average age of someone coming into a care home is about 88. About 70 per cent of them have been diagnosed with some form of dementia. They are requiring a lot more intense care than they did 20 to 30 years ago.”

 As one commentator dryly noted, seniors in care homes don’t live long enough to rally for the change needed to make these facilities work better for the people who require them. By 2036 one in four Canadians will be a senior. We need to examine how best  to accommodate this growing sector through more efficiently operating and staffing  seniors’ care facilities. We also need to immediately trial different models of “aging in place” either in multi-unit adapted single family homes or by relaxing zoning restrictions to allow for more co-housing models in the local areas.  With a seniors’ population doubling in the next 25 years, we need to act now.