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B.C. Care Providers predict 'bedlam' in long-term care without more beds

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BURNABY (NEWS 1130) – B.C. is already short thousands of long-term care beds, and with more and more baby boomers entering their golden years, the need is only going to increase.

Such is the crux of a new report from the BC Care Providers Association (BCCPA) which predicts that in order to meet the impending demand, the province will need 45,000 new beds by 2041.

The prediction, extrapolated from Ministry of Health data, varies from a 2016 prediction from the Conference Board of Canada that the province will require 30,900 new long-term care beds by 2035.

“As of today, we’re already 3,000 beds short even for the existing population that needs long-term care. So the numbers in the report are quite staggering,” says BCCPA CEO Daniel Fontaine.

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The report titled “Bedlam in BC’s Continuing Care Sector” makes a dozen recommendations to the provincial and federal governments, including the creation of a future strategy to address the problem, complete with targets and funding commitments.

It also pushes the government to leverage the private sector — which accounts for roughly two-thirds of the province’s existing beds — to help meet the growing demand.

When reached for comment, the BC Ministry of Health said it was still reviewing the report.

“The fact that in the last two years, we’ve only had one approval for an expansion for long-term care, and that was for about 120 beds in the Comox Valley area, you can see how when you juxtapose that decision with how many new beds we need, we have to get going very quickly,” Fontaine says.

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While the ageing baby boomer population is a health care challenge across the country, Fontaine says the need is more acute in BC, which many seniors choose as a retirement destination.

BC Senior’s Advocate Isobel Mackenzie notes that the need for long-term care beds is not evenly distributed across the province, and in some health regions the wait lists for beds are short.

“I think the missing piece here is the assisted living and home care piece, which is very much about how are we dealing with people in the community so that they don’t need a long-term care bed. There is planning going on and projecting going on in terms of what the future demand will be,” she says.

Mackenzie adds she would like to see greater provincial coordination of existing long-term care beds so that gaps in certain regions are filled.