Government given a D grade for its care of seniors
The B.C. Health Coalition delivered a failing grade to the province Tuesday on its lack of progress to improve the quality of life for seniors in residential care and access to information about the facilities.
A delegation from the coalition rallied on the steps of the legislature and met B.C. Health Minister Mike de Jong to express its concern that recommendations in a 2009 report on the state of seniors’ care, by B.C.’S Ombudsperson, have not been acted upon.
“The voices of seniors in this province are saying enough is enough,” Katrine Conroy, NDP critic for Seniors and Long-term Care, said at the legislature.
The biggest issue for Kathleen Kyle, whose 79year-old husband is in a Victoria residential care facility, is access to information.
Kyle, who formerly worked in the Freedom of Information office for the provincial government, said she had an impossible time trying to access documents from Vancouver Island Health Authority on policies, procedures, guidelines and standards for residential care homes.
Fuelling Kyle’s desire for more information is the fact her and her husband are paying more for his residential care, since fees went up, and at the same time seeing fewer staff and services.
“Kathleen Kyle is relying on a freedom-of-information request to find rules about Vancouver Island seniors facilities — policies, procedures, standards or guide- lines,” Conroy told the government during Question Period. “Families filing freedom-of-information requests — is that what the minister means by a broader source of information?”
The coalition gave the province a D for its action on the Ombudsperson’s recommendation to ensure seniors and their families have access to the information they need to make informed decisions about residential care.
Premier Christy Clark said she hadn’t yet heard the specific concerns of the health coalition members but believes her government needs to be sharing more information rather than less.
“In general, yeah we are absolutely committed to open government,” Clark told reporters.
De Jong told the House he had a good discussion with the coalition Tuesday.
“The objective for the government, the objective for me, is to ensure that residents, patients and their families have ready access to the broadest possible gambit of information so that they can make informed decisions about the homes and the facilities that their loved ones are living in,” he said.
Shannon Marshall, spokeswoman for the Vancouver Island Health Authority, said it has sent Kyle the information she requested and no formal request was needed.
Discussion is underway at VIHA to move such documents to its internet site once technical issues are worked out.