VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Funding is coming for seniors’ care homes and their workers in Metro Vancouver, despite economic challenges facing the province as a result of COVID-19, according to B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix.
“There will be announcements in Metro Vancouver,” he said a day after the addition of 495 long-term care beds in the B.C. Interior.
Dix added spending on care for seniors in the Lower Mainland is necessary.
“We are investing and we will be investing, for example, in preparation for a vaccine,” he said. “That involves ensuring you have both the staffing and the means.”
Adrian Dix, Minister of Health; Susan Brown, president and CEO, Interior Health; Ronna-Rae Leonard, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors; and Michelle Mungall, MLA for Nelson-Creston, share an announcement about long-term care in the Interior.
— BC Government News (@BCGovNews) July 13, 2020
He insisted the province’s goal of having care providers spend more than three hours a day with seniors in long-term care is still achievable. Dix didn’t clarify whether funding for the Metro Vancouver long-term care homes will be for new spaces or upgrades to existing rooms.
However, he admitted the retention of long-term care staff is a complicated issue.
“It’s such a difficult time for us economically and socially, in terms of health during this time of pandemic, that you can’t talk about opportunity. But it’s an occasion, as well, to recruit the next generation of healthcare workers.”
Dix expects the rule restricting care-home workers to a single site to remain in place, adding it works on both healthcare and economic levels.
“You would have been asking people to go to a single site where the pay was lower than if they were working at multiple sites, and it wouldn’t have worked. And that’s why in B.C., we’ve had to most effective response,” he said.
Regarding beds in the Interior, 140 are being planned for Kelowna, 100 in Kamloops, 90 in Vernon, 90 in Penticton and 75 in Nelson.
The province has committed to invest more than $1 billion over three years to improve care for seniors, including investments in primary care, home health, long-term care, assisted living, and respite services. That includes $240 million over three years to increase staffing levels in long-term care homes.
Interior Health has issued five requests for proposals for the 495 new long-term care beds. Results will be evaluated in the fall and a decision will be awarded in early 2021.