BC Medical Association

BC Medical Association

May 01, 2008 12:31 ET

The BCMA Calls on Government to Improve the Care Provided to the Elderly and Other Dependent Patients

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - May 1, 2008) - The BC Medical Association calls on the provincial government to adequately support British Columbia's frail elderly and other dependent people who require help with their day-to-day living by implementing wait time benchmarks, increasing funding to the services they need, and exploring alternative methods of financing.

In its policy paper released today, Bridging the Islands: Re-building BC's Home and Community Care System, the BCMA draws on the successful elements of home and community care (HCC) programs in other countries and makes 15 recommendations aimed at correcting the downward trend that BC's own HCC programs are heading.

Two particular concerns are removing the barriers patients encounter in accessing home care and community services and improving upon the services that people receive once they are in the system. The current system is fragmented and uncoordinated which translates to costly and inefficient care.

"It is imperative that we achieve a better balance and more seamless integration between institutional and home or community based care," said BCMA President, Dr. Geoff Appleton. "It's not difficult to comprehend that by providing better services for those who need assistance now will not only improve or maintain quality of life but will also save the system millions of dollars down the line in reduced hospital stays."

Currently wait time benchmarks don't exist for HCC patients who can often wait weeks just to be assessed. A key recommendation calls for establishing a maximum allowable wait time of one month after the family doctor has requested a case manager assessment, and a maximum allowable wait time of one month between case manager assessment and placement into the right care setting.

When compared to the rest of the country, BC comes in last in terms of residential care funding and provides the fewest number of residential care beds per capita. While these reductions in residential care funding and beds would not necessarily be wrong if accompanied by an increase in community-based care, the reality is a simultaneous decrease in home support services - the very services that evidence suggests are the most cost effective and best able to maintain quality of life. A second recommendation calls for the Ministry of Health to immediately increase funding to home and community health services bringing BC up to the national average that will allow increased access to services and expand the range of services offered.

To ensure the financial resources exist to achieve these goals, alternative methods of funding must be explored. A third recommendation calls on the federal government to create personal tax advantaged funds, like an RRSP for health, to meet future long-term care needs.

As examples in other countries have shown, a successful shift toward community based care and away from hospital or residential based care is only possible when community services are appropriately funded.

Contact Information

  • BC Medical Association
    Sharon Shore
    Senior Manager of Communications and Media Relations
    (604) 638-2832 or (604) 306-1866
    Website: www.bcma.org