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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bill Almond’s observatory in its new home on a Saanich lakeside. (Submitted/Cameron Burton)
Colwood stargazing dome makes a move to Saanich

The backyard structure finds a new home after 30 years

Chris Grzywacz, Seed and Stone’s development agent, holds products from the Songhees Cannabis S + S store on April 20. (Jake Romphf/ News Staff)
First cannabis store opens on Songhees Nation, creates economic opportunity says chief

The Songhees Cannabis S + S had a soft launch at its 1502 Admirals Road location on April 20

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Darrel McLeod won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction in 2018 for his first book, Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age. His newly-released memoir, Peyakow: Reclaiming Cree Dignity, follows as a sequel. (Black Press Media file)
Critically acclaimed Sooke author releases new memoir

Peyakow follows as a sequel to Darrel McLeod’s first book, Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age

RCMP have appealed to the public for help identifying the man. (Black Press Media file image)
Police, dog unit called after man exposed himself at West Shore elementary school

West Shore RCMP credits students, aged 11 and 5, for seeking help

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

The city asking the public if they want to pursue legal action against the province and their decision to override the city on the Victory Church issue. (Jesse Day Western News)
Penticton ready to sue province over homeless shelter

City council voted unanimously to authorize legal action

Most Read