Home Support – Office of the Seniors Advocate BC

“Throughout the past five years, I have heard from tens of thousands of seniors about the issues that matter to them, and indeed the wants, hopes, dreams and aspirations of those who are 65 or older are as diverse as the people themselves. However, if there is one issue where seniors hold a near-unanimous opinion, it is in their desire to live independently, in their own home, for as long as possible.

No matter what our age, living independently requires the ability to find safe, affordable housing and the capability to complete the tasks necessary to care for ourselves and our surroundings. As we age, some of us will experience some challenges with everyday tasks we once could do ourselves and we will look to family and friends to help us out. Many of us will also turn to a professional type of help, often known as home support, to assist us.

The provincial home support program is a lifeline for many seniors in B.C. who would undoubtedly need to live in a long-term care facility if it were not for the assistance they receive with the personal care and medication management the program provides. However, when my office reviewed the current program to look at its overall effectiveness and whether it is meeting the needs of B.C.’s seniors, we found that it is falling short on many fronts.

Who is it serving, how well is it serving them, who is it not serving, why is it not serving them, and what are the overall consequences if the program is failing are the test questions we asked in relation to the B.C. home support program. To get the answers, we looked
at both qualitative and quantitative data. What we found was a program that, while meeting the needs of some seniors, was falling seriously short of the mark in meeting the needs of most seniors and, as a consequence, was creating overburdened family caregivers, prematurely placing seniors in long-term care, increasing lengths of stay in hospital, and unnecessarily costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars each year that could be saved with an effective home support program.”