Home care­givers get a $75-mil­lion boost

Times Colonist - - B.c. / Canada - KEVIN GRIF­FIN

VAN­COU­VER — New spend­ing of $75 mil­lion on respite care and adult day­care pro­grams is ex­pected to help re­duce stress on fam­ily and friends who care for se­niors at home, Health Min­is­ter Adrian Dix an­nounced Mon­day.

The num­ber of ad­di­tional beds for respite care or day pro­gram spots will de­pend on how each of the prov­ince’s five re­gional health au­thor­i­ties de­cides to spend the money.

The daily cost per per­son of an adult day pro­gram is about $120, while respite care is about $200 a day.

Dix said the $75 mil­lion over three years will go to help re­duce stress ex­pe­ri­enced by fam­ily mem­bers and friends who pro­vide un­paid care­giv­ing at home.

“For the one mil­lion fam­ily-and -friend care­givers in B.C., this will mean that if they need a break for a few hours af­ter work or on the weekend, op­tions will be there,” Dix said at a news con­fer­ence at Colling­wood Neigh­bour­hood House in Van­cou­ver.

“For se­niors, this means they’re sup­ported to stay in their own homes as long as pos­si­ble sur­rounded and cared for by the peo­ple they love.”

Dix said the ad­di­tional money is in part due to the re­port Care­givers in Dis­tress: A Grow­ing Prob­lem re­leased in 2017 by the B.C. se­niors ad­vo­cate, Iso­bel Macken­zie. In the previous two years, the re­port said, the num­ber of care­givers re­port­ing stress had in­creased by two per cent to 31 per cent.

The re­port cited a Sta­tis­tics Canada es­ti­mate of about one mil­lion un­paid care­givers in B.C.

Dix said the new money for respite care is in re­sponse to what had been a re­duc­tion dur­ing the past five years of respite beds and fewer adult day pro­grams in many com­mu­ni­ties.

He said ad­di­tional respite care will help com­bat symp­toms of dis­tress in care­givers such as anger and de­pres­sion.

Depend­ing on the care­givers’ sit­u­a­tion, the ad­di­tional respite care might pro­vide a much­needed break of a few hours a day or more to cook a meal, go for a walk, or con­nect with a spouse.

“When care­givers aren’t given the op­por­tu­nity to recharge, [it] can af­fect their de­ci­sion to con­tinue to care — and maybe look at res­i­den­tial care,” he said.

“Sup­port­ing care­givers is cru­cial to the qual­ity of life of se­niors.”

Dix said in the first year, an ad­di­tional $10 mil­lion will go to respite care, fol­lowed by $30 mil­lion and $35 mil­lion in the sec­ond and third years, re­spec­tively.

Respite care in­cludes tak­ing the per­son they’re car­ing for to a res­i­den­tial-care fa­cil­ity (nurs­ing home) for a day or sev­eral days. A day pro­gram is where some­one with de­men­tia can spend a day get­ting health-care and per­sonal ser­vices such as nurs­ing and bathing, hav­ing lunch and tak­ing part in group ac­tiv­i­ties.

The new money will al­low adult day pro­grams to ex­pand into the evening and week­ends.

Macken­zie de­scribed the $75 mil­lion in fund­ing as a “mean­ing­ful com­mit­ment” to the care­givers of the prov­ince.

“We do know if we can re­lieve [care­givers] of some of their care­giv­ing bur­den — not all of it, just some of it — that those hus­bands, wives, sons, daugh­ters, grand­chil­dren will sol­dier on and sup­port their loved ones to un­be­liev­able lengths to main­tain their … in­de­pen­dence and dig­nity of life in their own homes,” she said at the news con­fer­ence where Dix made the an­nounce­ment.

Barb McLean, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Fam­ily Care­givers of B.C., said respite care gives care­givers relief from their dayto-day work so they can keep car­ing.

She said the an­nounce­ment also gives them con­fi­dence that they’re a part­ner in the prov­ince’s health-care sys­tem.

“Be­cause we’re re­ally fo­cus­ing in our health sys­tem on per­so­nand fam­ily-cen­tred care, that feel­ing as a care­giver that you’re now go­ing to be in­cluded as part­ner in a way that you weren’t be­fore is re­ally, re­ally sig­nif­i­cant,” McLean said at the news con­fer­ence.

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